American Clan Gregor Society.

Year book of the American clan Gregor Society, containing the proceedings of the [1st/2d]- annual gathering[s] (Volume yr.1909-1910) online

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Helots at the hands of their Spartan conquerors; we may study
the wide conquests of Rome for her dealings with the subject world;
we may read the subjugation of Britain by the ruthless Saxon and
the tyrannical Norman, or the conquest of Mexico and Peru by the
heartless Spaniard; but nothing can be found to compare in cold,
inhuman cruelty with the oppression of the MacGregors by their
own countrymen and even by that royal house, the House of Stuart,
which they were ever ready to support with their lives and their
property.

They were driven from their homes, M^hich were appropriated by
others, but no place was provided for their habitation; their name
was proscribed under pain of death; it was made a capital crime for
them to assemble together in numbers greater than four and ta
carry weapons other than a blunt-pointed knife, though it was made
no felony to murder them on sight; the least commiseration or pro-
tection extended them was punishable by heavy fine; the very means
of making a living were denied them. The men were slain wherever
found; the women were branded on the cheek with a red-hot iron
key; their wives and children were torn from their homes and
planted among strangers; and they were hunted like beasts
of the forest with bloodhounds at their heels.

They were called thieves when inhuman laws reduced them to
starvation as the only alternative; they were proclaimed outlaws
when made so by injustice; they were denounced as murderers when
they slew their enemies in defense of their own lives.

Amid all these trials and persecutions they stood united, making
common cause in adversity as well as in prosperity. From this in-

[12]



domitable race there arose no cry for mercy; asking no favors but
■only demanding their "rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happi-
ness," they returned blow for blow and when overcome by superior
numbers and resources they sought safety, not by submission to in-
justice, but in nature's fastnesses where they eked out a precarious live-
lihood and bided a more favorable season, or else died with their
grip on their enemy's throat.

The world has never witnessed greater patience, bravery, fortitude,
devotion, and loyalty, with community of action and interest. It was
the tie of kinship, coupled with courageous natures that bound them
together and enabled this heroic people to preserve not only their
existence but the integrity of their Clan in the face of difficulties and
dangers unequalled and with a tenacity and courage unparallelled
in the records of history, so that posterity to the latest generation
shall point with pride to descent from this lion-hearted race. Such
was the race whose posterity we proudly claim to be.

In illustration of the unity of action, community of interests, high
sense of honor, and military prowess, that obtained among the Mac-
Gregors, the three following instances may be related:

A few MacGregors, when wandering in the woods, met a King's
forester named Drummond, whom they viewed as a trespasser upon
their domain or with whom they were at feud for the slaughter of
some of their own name, and slew him on the spot. The rest of
the Clan, apprehending serious complications with the law, assem-
bled in a church at Balquhidder and took an oath, with their hands
upon the severed head of their victim, that they would one and all
unite in acknowledging the deed and equally share the consequences,
which ultimately fell heavily upon them.

A young MacGregor, son of a Chief, in an accidental brawl was
slain by a man named Lamont. The latter fled by night to escape
the vengeance of his victim's friends and took refuge in the house
of the father of the murdered man, who was ignorant of the deed
committed. Protection of his life was demanded and readily granted
with the promise of safety while he remained under MacGregor's
roof. When the pursuers arrived and demanded the murderer for
instant execution, at the same time explaining that the owner of the
house was harboring the slayer of his own son, the old man, with
tears streaming down his cheeks, replied: "He has MacGregor's
word and honor for his safety and as God lives he shall be safe
and secure while in my house." This MacGregor Chief then accom-
panied him with an armed escort to a place of safety, took him by
the hand, and thus addressed him: "Lamont, now you are safe;
no longer can I or will I protect you; keep out of the way of my
Clan. May God forgive and bless you."

In the Battle of Glen Fruin, in 1603, two hundred MacGregors,
under their Chief, Alexander MacGregor, with the loss of only two
men, defeated with great slaughter about eight hundred of the Clan

[13]



Colquhoun witli their friends, the Buclianans and others, slaying
two hundred and giving no quarter. The allied clans were the aggres-
sors and entirely to blame for the battle which the MacGregors tried
to avoid.

There were three episodes in the history of this Clan that
were the principal cause of the severe enactments against them and
finally contributed to their ruin:

1. The jealousy entertained by the House of Bruce against a Clan
that claimed royal descent.

2. The murder of Drummond, the forester, with its ghastly de-
tails.

:j. The Battle of Glen Fruin with its bloody attend-ng circum-
stances.

These acts of the MacGregors were represented by their ene-
mies at court, wliere the Clan had no friends to defend them or to
explain the circumstances, as evidences of an untamable nature and
a ferocity of disposition only to be dealt with by utter extermina-
tion of the Clan root and branch. This was attempted, but it failed.

It is by no means my intention to convey the impression that the
members of this Clan were all models of righteousness and virtue.
It was a barbarous age; they were surrounded by a barbarous
society who committed upon them and upon whom they committed
many acts of violence and outrage that were no doubt utterly un-
called for. But at the outset they were the victims of unjustifiable
aggression and learned the doctrine of injustice in the bitter school
of experience with those who were in authority over them and who
should have been their protectors.

I desire to thank you for this response to our invitation, which
is in itself a positive proof of the existence of that racial sympathy
which is inherent in all races but in none more conspicuously than
amongst the Scottish Highlanders, of whom the MacGregors are
an ultra type. I feel that the work that shall be done by this assem-
blage will be the means of much pleasure, satisfaction, and profit, to
all concerned in it, and will earn for us the gratitude of coming
generations.



[14]



SKETCH OF CLAN GREGOR.

Bv Major Edward Magrudek TutwilEr.

1 SUPPOSE in coming together your desire is to become acquainted
with each other, and afterward to learn as much as you can of
the Clan's history.

At the request of your temporary Chief, Dr. E. M. Magruder, I
have prepared this paper which, if nothing else, will create in us a
desire to learn more about our ancestors and cause researches to be
made that will show from what branch of the Scottish family the
American branch descended.

The Clan Gregor, or as they were anciently called, the Clan Alpin,
was one of the most ancient in Scotland. They were descended
from Griogar, third son of Alpin, sixty-eighth King of Scotland. The
latter had been slain at Abernethy by the Picts, and Griogar had
been carried away by them.

In old deeds the Clan Gregor is often styled Vich-Alpin in proof
of their royal descent. Various Celtic annals prove the great antiq-
uity of this race, and an ancient chronicle in that language relating
to the genealogy of the Clan MacArthur declares that there is none
older, excepting the hills, the rivers and the Clan Alpin.

The extensive boundaries originally occupied by this clan stretched
along the romantic wilds of the Trossachs and Balquhidder to the
more northerly and westerly altitudes of Rannach and Glenurchy,
comprehending a portion of the counties of Argyll, Perth, Dumbar-
ton and Stirling, which were called the Country of the MacGregors.
Alexander, or Alister, MacGregor of Glenstrae, lived in the fast-
nesses of Rannach, the central part of Druim Albyn, prior to the
year 1600, but for several centuries prior to that date the MacGreg-
ors were an important race, connected with many of the most dis-
tinguished families of the time.

The unfortunate Stuart princes, who for so many years ruled
Scotland and England, were descended from the ancient Clan of Alpin;
hence their crest and motto indicate their origin — a crowned lion,
with the words "Shriogal mo dhream" — my tribe is royal. Their
badge Giuthas, pine tree.

In the eleventh century this tribe was in favor with the king and
their Chief received the honor of knighthood. The MacGregor of
this period also had due respect for the church, as his son became
the Abbot of Dunkeld. By such marks of esteem the tribe in-
creased in power, and when they were further dignified by a title
of nobility, and became the Lords MacGregor of Glenurchy, they ap-
peared so well established and their vassals so numerous that they
could cope with the most elevated families of the kingdom. If we ex-

[151



cept the Clan MacDonald, the territory occupied by the MacGregors
for some centuries was more considerable than that of any other
tribe.

In order to secure their inheritance in various quarters a Lord
MacGregor of the Thirteenth Century built the castle of Kilchurn
on a peninsulated rock in Lochawe, the castle of Fenlarig at the
west, and that of Ballach, since named Taymouth, at the east end, of
Loch Tay, together with the old castle in the Lake of Lochdochart,
and other strongholds.

During the variable fortunes and struggles of Robert the Bruce
for the independence of his country, The Chief of the MacGregors
supported him at all hazards, and after the defeat of the Scottish
Army at Methven, MacGregor, whose clan was present, conducted
Bruce with his followers and ladies to the fastnesses of his own
country and extended them all the hospitalities.

On one occasion Alexander, Lord of Argyle, who was an enemy
of Bruce, hearing that the King with a small body of men had
taken shelter among the hills of Breadalbane and Balquhidder, as-
sembled 1,200 men, attacked Bruce near the present ruin of Tyn-
druni in Breadalbane, and although the contest was fierce it was
so unequal that Bruce was forced to make a precipitate retreat. On
this occasion MacGregor appeared with a body of his clan, repulsed
the King's pursuers and relieved him from his perilous situation.

The men of Lome, amazed at his extraordinary bravery and terri-
fied at the known fierceness of the MacGregors, withdrew to their
own country. After this the forces of Bruce dispersed, and he
having placed himself under the guidance of MacGregor, was con-
ducted to the borders of Loch Lomond, and there lodged in the cave-
at Craigcrotan, afterward frequented by Rob Roy.

In the subsequent battle of Bannockburn, The Chief of the Mac-
Gregors appeared on that day at the head of his Clan, and a circum-
stance purely superstitious contributed to inspire the whole army
with that enthusiastic valor which proved so successful

A relic of St. Fillan had long been preserved in the family of
MacGregor, and this Saint being a favorite with the King, The Chief
carried it enshrined in a silver cofifer along with him in the campaign,
and the day before the battle committed it to the care of the Abbot
of Inchoflfray, who, in case of defeat, secreted the relic and exhib-
ited the empty casket as containing it.

The King, while at his devotions over the precious shrine, and
particularly imploring the aid of the Saint, was startled by its sud-
denly opening and shutting of its own accord. The priest hastening
to know the cause of the alarm was astonished to find that the arm
of the Saint had left its place of concealment and had again occu-
pied the casket in which it belonged. He confessed what he had
done, and the King immediately caused the story to be proclaimed
through the whole army, who regarded the miracle as an omen of

[16]



future success. From the victory which crowned the Scottish patri-
ots on that day and the supposed influence of St. Fillan, Bruce caused
a priory to be erected in StrathfiUan, in 1314, which he dedicated to
his favorite apostle.

The members of the MacGregors increased so much as to become
too large for even the wide domain they occupied, so there were
frequent migrations to other districts, where other patronymics were
assumed. Of these were the Grants, Mackinnons, Macnabs and
Mackays.

The MacGregors were early marked as a prey by their unscrupu-
lous and ambitious neighbors. The power and consequence they
acquired generated jealousy and envy in the breasts of neighboring
chieftains, and every method was used to excite the suspicions and
render them odious in the eyes of the King who alone could curb
their spirit of independence.

According to Buchanan of Auchmar, the Clan Gregor was located
on Glenurchy as early as the reign of Malcolm Canmore (1057 to
1093). As, however, they were the vassals of the Earl of Ross in
the reign of Alexander II (1214-1229), it is probable that Glenur-
chy was given to them by that nobleman from the large tracts of
land conferred on him by Alexander. Hugh of Glenurchy was the
first of their chiefs so styled. Malcolm was Chief of the Clan in
the days of Bruce.

In the reign of David II (1339 to 1370), the Campbells managed
to obtain a legal title to the lands of Glenurchy, but nevertheless,
the MacGregors maintained actual possession for many years by the
strong hand. They knew no other right than the sword; but ulti-
mately this was found unavailing, and they were driven from their
own territory and became an outlawed, lawless, and landless Clan.

John MacGregor of Glenurchy, who died in 1390, had three sons:
Patrick, his successor; John Dow, ancestor of the family of Glen-
strae, who became the Chiefs of the family; and Gregor, ancestor of
the MacGregors of Roro. Patrick's son, Malcolm, was compelled
to sell the lands of Auchinrevach in StrathfiUan, to Campbell of
Glenurchy, who thus obtained the first footing in Breadalbane, which
afterward gave the title of Earl to his family.

Thus in process of time the principal families of the MacGregors,
except that of Glenstrae, who held that estate as vassals of the Earl
of Argyle, were reduced to the position of tenants on the lands of
Campbell of Glenurchy, and other powerful barons, it being the
policy of the latter to get rid of them altogether. The unfortunate
Clan was driven by a continuous system of oppression and annoyance,
to acts of rapine and violence, which brought upon them the ven-
geance of the government.

The Clan had no other means of subsistence than the plunder of
their neighbors' property, and as they naturally directed their at-
tacks, chiefly against those who had wrested their own lands from

[17]



them, it became still more the interest of their oppressors to repre-
sent to the King that nothing could put a stop to their lawless con-
duct "save the cutting off the tribe of MacGregor root and branch."

From this period the history of the MacGregors is a list of acts
of the Privy Council by which commissions were granted generally
to the Campbells and other enemies of the Clan to pursue them with
fire and sword. This naturally made the tribe commit more atroci-
ties against both the framers of the edicts, as well as those who put
them into execution.

In 1589 they murdered John Drummond of Drummondernoch, a
portion of the royal forest of Glenurchy, an act which forms the
foundation of the incident detailed in Sir Walter Scott's Legend of
Montrose. The Clan swore upon the head of the victim that they
would avow and defend the deed in common. This led to more
severe action on the part of the crown. Fresh letters of fire and sword
were issued against them for three years. All persons were for-
bidden to harbor or have any communication with them.

Then followed the conflict of Glen Fruin in 1603, in which the
MacGregors almost exterminated the Colquhouns of Luss, a neigh-
boring tribe on the west side of Loch Lomond. The MacGregors,
under their Chief, Alexander of Glenstrae, about 200 in number, went
to the country of the Colquhouns in order to effect a reconciliation
with this tribe. This happy event was apparently consummated, and
the MacGregors, satisfied with the result of their mission, were
returning to their homes and had gotten as far as about the middle
of Glen Fruin, about six miles from the confluence of its river with
Loch Lomond, when they were attacked by about 500 horsemen and
300 men on foot who had been secretly and treacherously collected
by The Chief of. the Colquhouns and his friends for the purpose of
taking the MacGregors unawares.

Alexander MacGregor, however, suspected their insincerity and
was prepared for the conflict. The battle was fought with great
valor and determination on both sides, but the inherent bravery of
the MacGregors, although outnumbered by four to one, finally de-
cided the day in their favor.

More than 200 of the Colquhouns perished, but strange to say,
while many were wounded, only two of the MacGregors were
killed, one being John Glass, the brother of their Chief, who had
married the daughter of the Earl of Tullibardine. This John Glass
owned fifteen farms in Balquhidder, beside a fortress situated at the
southeastern extremity of Loch Vail, called the Castle of MacGreg-
or's Isle. But although the father-in-law laid hold of these lands
in behalf of the widow and children and was the intimate friend of
James VI, such considerations did not stay the vengeance of that
monarch, nor prevent their being included in the sweeping denuncia-
tion of the clan which followed, it being represented that John
Glass MacGregor was the chief opponent of the Colquhouns.

[18]



Unfortunately, the MacGregors had no friend at court, and the
conflict at Glen Fruin being misrepresented to the King, an act
of his council, dated April 3rd, 1603, ordered that the name of Mac-
Gregor should forever be abolished; that all who bore it should
forthwith renounce it; and that none of their posterity should ever
afterward take the name under pain of death.

This declaration was also accompanied by a private order to the
Earl of Argyle, and the Campbells, to pursue, slay, and if possible,
exterminate the race of Clan MacGregor. In following out these
instructions the young, the old, the female as well as the male were
indiscriminately butchered by the miscreants thus commissioned.
A price was set upon the head of every MacGregor brought to the
authorities at Edinburgh. Even graves were opened and heads cut
from the bodies therein, and sold to the government.

The favorite names adopted by the MacGregors, when compelled
to relinquish their own, were Campbell, Graham, Stuart and Drum-
mond.

Alexander MacGregor, the brave and honorable Chief, was finally
betrayed by the false promises of the Earl of Argyle, taken to
Edinburgh, and executed with many of his followers in 1604. The
son of his brother, John Glass MacGregor, became The Chief on his
death. The clan through all these persecutions, retained its unity
and increased in numbers.

The proscriptions against them did not cease with the reign of
James, but under Charles I, his son, all the enactments against
them were renewed. The MacGregors always, however, remained
loyal to the House of Stuart, and we find them 1,000 strong, fight-
ing under Montrose against the Cromwellian army in the Battle of
Kilsyth in 1645, where they gained a decisive victory. Their Chief
at this time was Patrick MacGregor of Glenstrae, and in reward
for their loyalty, the various enactments against them were annulled
after the restoration of the House of Stuart in the person of
Charles II.

In the reign of William III, however, the Clan was again pro-
scribed and compelled to take other names, which continued until
1774, when they were finally rescinded by the British Parliament.



Bibliography: "Scottish Nation," by William Anderson; "Histor-
ical Memoirs of Rob Roy and the Clan MacGregor," by K. Maclary,
M. D.; "Clan Histories," by Henry Whyte, and the "History of
Stirlingshire," by the Rev. William Nimmo, revised by the Rev.
William MacGregor Stirling.



[19]



ALEXANDER MACGRUTHER AND THE CLAN GREGOR
IN AMERICA.

Bv John Read Macul-der.

JT was a happy thought, and most appropriate, that the first gen-
eral meeting of the MacGregor in America should be held in the
capital of the nation, for at the time our ancestor was establishing
himself on this continent what is now known as the District of Colum-
bia was a part of the Colony of Maryland, in which he settled; and
thus, while in a sense, we may gladly claim you all as of Maryland
descent and Scots of the Clan Gregor, we are not unmindful of
the fact that we are all citizens of this great republic.

Doubtless there are others of the Clan in America beside our
branch. We claim descent from Alexander MacGruther, "The Emi-
grant," as he was called. I am not sure when the name was changed
to Magruder. The family was of Perthshire, Scotland, and he, as an
officer in the army of Charles II, was taken prisoner by the army
of the Commonwealth under Cromwell at Worcester in 1651, and
transported via the Barbadoes and Virginia to Maryland, where,
after ransoming himself, he took up lands by patent calling them
by such names as Dunblane, Anchovie Hills and Craignigh, thus
showing his love and affection for his native Highlands.

He seems to have at once entered upon a career of success. I
caTinot, in this brief paper, give even the meager details known of
him, but from what we do know, and judging from results — the
tree by its fruit — he must have been a man of great force and vigor.
He died in 1677, and a transcript of his will is on file in the office
of the Land Commissioner of Maryland, in Annapolis. I have seen
it stated that at the time of his death he was possessed of more
than 4,000 acres of land in Calvert and Prince George's Counties,
Maryland, called as I have said, by names suggestive of his native
country.

We hear much of the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock, of the Ark
and the Dove, of the Mayflower, of Diedrich Knickerbocker and
his Dutch compatriots, of the Lords Baltimore, of De la Ware, the
Say and Seal, of Roger Williams, of William Penn, of John Smith
and the other settlers of the grand Old Dominion of Virginia, the
Carolinas, Georgia, the great West, Southwest and Northwest. We
give them great honor and are proud of their vast achievements;
but to me there is something deeply interesting and fascinating in
the story of that captive exile, descendant of kings, single-handed
and under great difficulties, establishing himself in a foreign clime,
where his descendants have grown and increased until now they

[20]



have habitation in and are known from one end of the land to the
other. He may be likened to the uprooted pine tree of our
escutcheon torn from its native mountain side and transplanted in
the virgin soil of a new continent where it took root and grew,
spreading its boughs unto the sea and its branches unto the river,
until under its broad shelter you are all met today.

It has been suggested that we resume the original name of the
Clan. In one instance this has been done. In 1820, John Smith
Magruder, of Prince George's County applied to the Legislature of
Maryland to change the name of his children to McGregor, and
his request was granted. But it must be remembered that we who
bear the name Magruder are only a part of those entitled to hang
the Shield of the MacGregor upon our walls. We would not nor
could we bind ourselves more closely to the Clan by this change
of name, for our present name explains our relation to and identifies
us with our ancestor who first made settlement on this continent.

Our Clan, in its many branches, is strong in our land with repre-
sentatives of the bench, the bar, the pulpit, the medical profession,
the army and navy, the halls of legislation; in fact every department
and avocation of life have been represented by its members, and
for the most part very creditably. While it may be that we should not
claim all that may be implied by that oft-quoted sentiment: "Where
The MacGregor sits there is the head of the table," we may assert
without egotism, without exaggeration and without fear of contra-
diction that the MacGregor, in its various branches, is the peer of


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Online LibraryAmerican Clan Gregor SocietyYear book of the American clan Gregor Society, containing the proceedings of the [1st/2d]- annual gathering[s] (Volume yr.1909-1910) → online text (page 2 of 7)