History of the Conn Family
[ Ayrshire ] [
Introduction ] [ CONNACHT ] [
] [ The Seven Kingdoms ] [The
First Irish Connection] [ The
Scottish Connection ]
of Auchry ]
Connection ] [ England ]
[ Great War ] [World
War] [ Historical Scene
[ Conclusions of
THE ORIGIN OF THIS ANCIENT AND HISTORICAL
SCOTTISH-IRISH SURNAME AND ITS
ROCKY PATH INTO THE TWENTY-FIRST
THIS NARRATIVE IS MAINLY CONCERNED AT THE BEGINNING
WITH THE PRE-B.C. MIGRATION OF MEDITERRANEAN PEOPLE OF HIGH BIRTH INTO THE
ISLAND WHICH BECAME KNOWN AS IRELAND.
AS TIME WENT BY THE FORAGES BY
THEIR DESCENDANTS TO THE ISLES AND MAINLAND OF SCOTLAND.
EVENTUALLY LEADING TO
THE DIRECT LINKS OF MY LINE OF THE
IRELAND, SCOTLAND and ENGLAND.
This is the Revised Research of
Alec dated 1st February 2003
Researched and written by Alexander [Alec] CONN.
Who can be contacted via e-mail at :- firstname.lastname@example.org
||I N T R O D U C T
I O N
It is my belief that before family
history can be given any chance of success one must first go to the origin
of the family name. This I did and it would appear that our family name
originated way back in the early part of the second century, in Ireland,
then to Scotland, and back to Ireland before our direct line became
domiciled in England.
It has taken me about twenty seven years
to obtain the following information.. The work being carried out in spells
of time with sometimes long intervals in between the spells of searching and
enquiring. The information was obtained by visiting churches to view
parish registers, Durham County Archives, newspaper records, from older
members of the family of my grandfather, the reading of books from Durham
County Library, from Edinburgh City Library, from records held by local
Councils in the Banff and Turriff areas of Scotland, from Inverness Library,
from the Court of the Lord Lyon, Edinburgh 1993, and by joining the Family
History Society in Aberdeen, Largs, East Ayrshire I also enlisted the
help of the Ulster Historical Foundation in Belfast, during 1995-6.
Enquiries were carried out at Edinburgh by a qualified researcher, Diane
Baptie during 1996. Finally, in 1999, my contact with David Alexander
Conn who had been researching his line in Aberdeenshire.
Condensed from the Media Research the
surname Conn is derived from the ancient Irish baptismal name of Con or
Conn. Its original meaning is said to have been “dog”, but its use was to
designate a warrior, the connotation evidently being “sea-dog” or dog-like
in reference to the fighting qualities of the animal. The name is also
found on ancient British and early American records in the form of Conne,
but the spelling first mentioned is that most generally accepted today. [www.monmouth.com/~rryan/coatarm2.htm].
It is maintained by family historians
that the name was taken from the year 123 A.D. in Ireland, from
Conn Cead-Cathach [Conn of the Hundred Battles]. The descent of this
Conn is given from Milesius [Miletus], King of Spain, through his
son Heremon, who with his elder brother Heber, was one of the first
Milestian Monarchs of Ireland. These brothers began their reign
about 1699 BC, leaving among others, a son named Ireal Faidh
[Iril, the Prophet], who became the tenth Monarch of Ireland. He
was succeeded by his son Eithrial, who, however, was slain in 1650
BC by one Canmaol. [Gerald Tudor and Rudolph Krutar]
Conn Cead-Cathach was the
leader of the clan “Siol Cuin” or “Conn”. He was also the
legendary Gallic-Gaul ancestor from whom the Clan Donald, were
descended and for over 500 years the Conns’ have been a
sept of the Clan MacDonald.
Conn of the Hundred Battles lived
from 123-173 A.D. and had been the Ard Ri (High King) of Ireland
having been crowned at Tara. He had been married twice and by his first
marriage had two sons, Connla and Art Aonarach (Art Alone). He is
believed to have been assassinated by fifty ruffians dressed as women. His
second marriage was to Becume and this union was childless. Art had
a son who was called Cormac Mac Art 227-266 A.D., a wise man
who has been the subject of a number of books. His son was called
Cairbre Riata and he gave his name to the Kingdom of Dalriada
in the Western Hebrides. He was married to Oileach and while still
living in Ireland had three sons who were known as the three Colla’s; Colla
Uais ,who died in 357 A.D; Colla and Colla.
Connacht was the leading kingdom of the
five. Between this western kingdom and Ulster in the north there was great
enmity. They were often at war, and a long time was to pass before Ulster
was finally defeated. Meanwhile, the Connacht kings gradually extended
their rule to the eastern part of the rich Central Plain, which was known as
Ma Bhrea. One of these kings was the mighty Conn of the Hundred Battles.
The legends tell how Conn and Mogh, the King of Munster, divided
Ireland between them, Conn taking the northern half [Leath Chinn],
and Mogh taking the southern half [Leath Mhogha]. Conn’s grandson,
Cormac Mac Airt, who reigned in the third century AD, finally broke up the
kingdom of North Leinster and made Tara his capital.
Mac Airt, First High King
Cormac was now the most powerful
king in Ireland. He ruled over Connachta and Mi, which together covered
the whole centre of the country from the Atlantic to the Irish Sea, and he
forced the kingdom of south Lienster to pay him a yearly tribute, which was
called the boru.
Cormac was the first king to be
called Ard Ri or High King of Ireland. He was great in war and in
peace. He made wise laws for his people; he built roads and founded
schools. The old Irish historians say that during his reign there was
contentment and happiness in Ireland.
||The SEVEN KINGDOMS
About the year 330 AD, three
Connacht princes known as the three Colas, invaded Ulster and
destroyed the ancient capital of Eamhain Macha. They formed a new kingdom,
named Airghialla, in central Ulster. At the beginning of the 5th Century
AD, Niall of the Nine Hostages ruled in Tara. Three of his sons marched
north and conquered West Ulster, where they formed a new kingdom named
Aileach, Ireland was now divided into seven kingdoms.
The descendants of Conn of the
Hundred Battles, who were known as Siol Chuinn, had now brought
the greater part of Ireland under their control. They ruled in Mi,
Connachta, Airghealla and Aileach. Siol Chuinn gave to Ireland a
line of High Kings who ruled for over six hundred years. [The History of
Ireland, Part 1 (a schoolbook found by Gerald Tudor
in a Kilrush, Co. Clare B & B)
The three Colla’s were
responsible for killing the King, Fiacha Strabhteine, and all three
left Ireland and went to the Hebrides (Dalriada). Soon afterwards the then
King or Ireland re-called them but only two returned, Colla Uais
remaining in the Hebrides. It would appear that he had a son,
Eochaihd Doimlen and from then onwards they became involved with the
fair haired people from Norway who conquered some of the islands.
My initial enquiries revealed that the Conn
name appeared in the Hebrides (Dalriada) and Islay, prior to the
12th Century A.D. In Auchry, Scotland in the 15th,
16th and 17th Centuries, in Glasgow
in the 17th Century, but were finally in this time
expatriated after the rebellions by some of the Clans against the Scottish
King and because of their reluctance to become Protestant in the
late 16th century. By the year 1690 they had more
or less disappeared from view in Scotland. It is believed that
expatriation had been by the heirarchy, to France, Spain and Portugal,
but many of the rank and file mainly to the County Down area of
Ireland. Before expatriation it appears that the rank and file had
changed to Presbyterian as this was their religion in Co. Down. A great
number of highlanders about this time changed their religion because of
persecution and also some changed to pay lip service to the new doctrine in
Scotland which suited their political purposes.
The name seemed to have disappeared by
1000 AD. The next to appear in the family chain is Gofraid
leading on to Somerled who in 1140 A.D married Ragnhilda,
the daughter of Olaf the Red, King of Sudereys and Man.
After Somerled was proclaimed a
descendant of Conn of the Hundred Battles he duly became Chief of the
Clan Donald. Various branches of this clan evolved.
The MacDonalds were Lords of the Isles
and this now very large and complete clan became involved in many bitter
political disputes with their neighbours and the King of Scotland.
These disputes eventually culminated in
fighting battles mainly in the highlands of Scotland.
It is at this time that the family name of
CONN re-emerges in the Highlands of the Scottish mainland.
FIRST IRISH CONNECTION
123 AD to 1100 AD
Throughout Irish history Tara has
always lain in the past. In the reigns of Conaire Mor, Conn Cetchathach,
Cormac MacAirt, Niall Noigiallach and Loeguire his son, the title of King
of Tara remained very much alive and did come to mean King of Ireland.
Tara’s importance extended far back into pre-history and apparently belongs
to the Gaulic Iron Age.
The earliest Regnal list of Tara
is a 7th century A.D. text, Baile Chuind,
the ‘Vision of Conn’. In the
9th century A.D. it was re-worked as Baile in Scail,
‘The Phantom Vision’ or ‘Prophetic Ecstacy’. In
it the god Lug fortells to Conn Cetchathach the names of his
descendants who shall rule Ireland from Tara. *(IKHK).
Semantic ambiguity is involved in
the name Connachta which originally was tribal or dynastic and
denoted descent from Conn of the Hundred Battles but which later came
to mean the province West of the Shannon. Tiathal Techmar was the
grandfather of Cetchathach the eponymous and great ancestor of the
Connachta. (IKHK). The three Colla’s, great grandsons of Cormac
Airt, had trouble with the Ulster King, Emain Macha, [or Fiacha
Strabhteine] and were responsible for his death. * IKHK
Historians further taught that in the
second century A..D. Ireland had been divided by Conn Cetchathach,
ancestor of the Connachta ,and Ut Neill and Mug Nuadat or Eogan. Conn’s
half ,”Leth Cuinn”, was North of a line drawn between Dublin and Galway
Bay.*(IKHK). Refer to earlier .
In order to look after their lands and
those conquered by them they brought from Scotland people from the
gallowglass clans, (those who gave their swords to fight for
others), MacDonalds, MacSweeneys and MacQueens, and eventually
over a period of time, instead of these fighting men going back to Scotland
some of them remained planted on these lands in Ireland.
During these early years of A.D
and Connachta, incursions were made by these Gaulic early Irish into the
Scottish South Western Isles and the West coast mainland. Some
remained, hence their historical and ancestral reference to being the
founders of the Clan Donald leading to MacDonald.*
In the Outer Hebrides a race of people called Dalriada
was located. This race was anciently descended from the Irish Kings,
especifically one, King Colla da Crioch, who had been banished from
Ireland along with other clan chiefs about 327 A.D. He died in
357 A.D. *(IKHK)
No-where has the stubborn adherence of these
Gauls now re-named Celts, and in this case the Gaels of Scotland, been more
demonstrated than in the persistence of the what is now called Celtic
language, art and customs, during the 300 to 350 years of the Norse
domination of the Western Isles of Scotland.
The children of Conn were able to
sustain their traditions and language throughout all that period and even to
impose on their conquerors some of their culture. This is proved by the way
in which some of the Gaulic art was taken back by the Norse invaders to
their homeland. **(C1.D. p.2)
I believe that it is appropriate at this point to refer to
“Britain and the Celtic Iron Age” [ Simon James and
Valery Rigby British Museum Press 1997]. The
notion that peoples in the British Isles, both ancient and modern, can be
described as “Celtic” is a surprisingly recent reconstruction, or
even invention; no-one but a few isolated
scholars referred to the Irish or British as “Celtic” until about 1700 AD.
Before that date “Celtic” had normally been applied only to ancient peoples
dwelling on the Continent.[page 3]. The Roman writers were rather
inconsistent in their use of the label ‘Celts’ which was most often used as
a synonym for ‘Gauls’ - they were completely consistent in only using it for
continental peoples, and in never using it for the Britons or Irish.
In 1703 , the Breton Abbe Pezron
published a book which, on the basis of evidence for languages ancient and
modern, suggested that the Ancient British were the same as the Celtae or
Galli [Gauls] of France.
This was received with enthusiasm by the
Welsh scholar Edward Lhuyd, who in 1707, published his own
influential work which proposed that Welsh, Breton, Irish and Scots Gaelic
and their ancestral tongues were all related to the ancient Gaulish
This was the route whereby the notion that people in the
British Isles are “Celtic” became established during the
eighteenth century, leading directly to the use of the term by
cultural and nationalist movements of recent times, and to the retrospective
labelling of the Ancient British and Irish as Celts.
Further reference on this subject may be made
to the Sunday Times of 14th November, 1999, Page 8. An
article written by Liam Clarke and Richard Woods is of a view put forward by
Richard Warner, and archeologist at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, who
presented the view, to the Annual Conference of the Irish Association for
Cultural, Economic and Social Relations, that, far from having distinctive
Celtic roots, the Irish are more likely to have English blood, according to
modern archeological analysis. He believes his case will be proved in the
year 2000 when the Royal Irish
Academy completes its genetic map of Ireland. Thousands of
DNA samples will be analysed and compared with genes from skeletons found by
archeologists. [This had not been completed in March, 2002].
Accepting the fact that the ancestors of the Gaels
came from the Eastern end of the Mediterranean by sea, first to Spain and
France thence to Ireland we must assume that there were no Scots in Scotland
until they came over from Ireland. Historically and traditionally it is
certain that in early times the Scots in Ireland carried out raids on the
West coast of not only England and Wales but of Scotland too. We know
that Conn Ceud-Cathach in the Second century A.D. did invade
the West coast of Scotland for a time. Thus we have the Scots coming over
in expeditions but not for permanent settlement from the second
century A.D. during the Roman occupation of Britain. They came to help
their friends and kinsmen, the Britons, against the Roman invaders.
From the opening of the Christian era we are
on firmer grounds in the history of Clan Donald. Conn from whom we
derive the name Clann Chuinn (Clann means children) is an historical
character who reigned from 123 A.D. to 173 A.D. and is
supposed to have lived for 100 years, although surrounded by some nebulous
traditions. He had two sons by an early marriage, Connla and Art.
By the time he wedded Becuma of the fair skin, who appears to
have been a somewhat disreputable young woman, Connla had gone and
Art was alone, hence the name Art Aonarach. Becume became jealous
of him, presumably not having a son of her own One of them had to go so a
chess game was arranged to decide. (chess and backgammon were well known
games in those days among our ancestors). Art won and Becume appears no
more in our story. Art is famous only for the fact that he was the
father of Cormac. **(Cl.D.p.7).
Cormac MacArt succeeded to the
Kingship in 227 A.D. and reigned until 266 A.D. He was a
wise king, a law giver, and is said to have become a Christian in
254 A.D. He was also the son-in-law of Cormac. Cormac MacArt
was succeeded by his son Cairbre Riata who was first to found a
settlement in the West of Alba (Scotland).
The marriage of Cairbre Riata to
Oileach, a lady of noble birth among the Picts of
important because when Cairbre’s sons, the three Colla’s migrated to Alba
and expanded their father’s settlements, their neighbours the Picts received
them in a more friendly manner. The later Kingdom of Dalriade takes its
name from Cairbre Riata. For information at this stage,
Clan Cholla is the name given to the Clan Donald by writers
The Northern Ut Macc Uais formed
one of the Irish septs to which the name Airgaill (hostage
givers) was applied. In 835 A.D. Gofraid, son of Fergus, a
nobleman of the Airgaill, went to Scotland to strengthen the Dal Riata at
the request of Kenneth, son of Alpin, who was an ancestor of
Somerled in the Clan Donald pedigree and who is therefore descended from
Colla Uais through people demonstrably of the Northern Ut Macc Uais.
There is evidence that at least as early as the 7th century A.D.
a section of the Airgialla, more particularly of the Northern Ut Macc Uais
had settled in the Scottish Dal Riata (Dalriada).
However, in the seventh and early
eighth centuries A.D. they were clearly in a subordinate position to the
Cenel Loairn, which involved military service to the latter.
They had already it is believed, performed this service for the Ut Neill in
Ireland. Their link with the Cenel Loairin and the association of Gofraid,
son of Fergus, with the Hebrides, in his Obit (notice of death) not
to mention the close and apparently continuing connection of his descendants
with that area might suggest that their original settlement was made on
those isles dominated by the Cenel Loairn. The apparent removal of their
ruling family from Ireland to Scotland in the ninth century A.D. in the
person of Gofraid seems to echo through on a small scale the advent in the
Dalriadic dynasty in the person of Fergus Mac Eirc about 500 .D.***(SHD.p.114-9)
Colla Uais, one of the three sons
of Cairbre who were all named Colla, is the next in line of interest to
us. About 300 A.D. the three Collas killed their uncle Fiacha
Strabhteine the 120th High King of Ireland and all three fled to Alba.
When re-called by the new King two of them went back to Ireland but Colla
Uais remained as he preferred to take his chance in Alba and he continued to
build up the power of Dalriada which was still nominally subject to the
King of Ireland. He had four sons, the eldest of whom,
Eochaidh, is claimed to be the direct ancestor of Somerled,
founder of the Clan Donald. The generations between Colla and
Somerled are somewhat obscure and vary between historian to historian.
All are, however, agreed that
Somerled was the direct line of Conn and Colla. The “men of
the Isles” whose opinion carried great weight in Clan Donald’s early
history were “satisfied with this fact” when they invited
Somerled to lead them in the twelfth century A.D. rebellion by the
Gaels against the Norse kings of the Sudereys and Man.
During the latter years of the 4th
century A.D. and the whole of the 5th century A.D. much was
happening in Britain and Alba. The Scots of Dalriade were consolidating
their hold on Argyll, Kintyre and the Isles South of Ardnmamurchan. They
had their setbacks and in 471 A.D. Angus, a strong king of the Picts
drove them back, and occupied much of their territory.
eighth Thane/Regulus/Lord of Argyll, Lord of Cantyre, Lord of the Hebrides,
founder of the ‘Kingdom of the Isles’, Norse King of the Sudreys, first
completely historical chief of what would become Clan Donald. was from
1100 to 1164 A.D. and Clan Donald from 1140 A.D. At the time
of him taking up his position with the Clan the “men of the Isles” pointed
out that Somerled was in the direct line of the great Colla and Conn and it
was his duty to take up the leadership and restore the fortunes of the
Gaels in those lands. ***(SHD.p.19)
had three surviving sons:-
1. DOUGAL who
inherited Lorn, Mull and Jura and was the founder of. Cloan McDougall.
2. RANALD who
got Kintyre and Islay, whose son Donald of Islay, founded the Clan Donald
and took the title ‘of the Isles’. This was about 1170 and a later
descendant started Clan Ranald.
3. ANGUS got
Bute, Arran and lands to the north. No clan takes its name from him.
Somerled was murdered in
his tent in the year 1164 A.D. and thus passed the great Celtic
hero of the race of Conn and Colla, (Clan Colla are the Manchuidh
and the tribes of MacGuire and Macmahon), founder
of a dynasty that lasted for 300 years.
***(SHD.p.22-3) Buried at the Abbey of Saddell
The Kingdom of the Isles was a
mixed Scandinavian-Celtic realm. The Clan Donald probably descended
in the male line from King Echmarcach of Dublin (who died on a
pilgrimage to Rome in 1065 A.D.) and he descended in the male line
from King Ranald “higher than the hills” and that all were thus descended
from the Frey-born pagan sacral Ynglingar “Peace Kings” of Uppsala who
claimed descent from the male manifestation of the Goddess Freya or Nerthus
whose emblem was the galley “The Boat of Isis”. Was this the
Eastern Mediterranean and an early connection with Egypt?
***(SHD.p.3) [Niul of
Aeothene, teacher of languages and sciences had been invited to Egypt by
Pharaoh, who gave him the land of Campus Cyrunt near the Red Sea, and his
daughter Scota in marriage. Scota, from whom their posterity [descendents]
are called Scots].[Arthur, Krutar, and Trimble - 1994] .
be the appropriate place to insert the following information
I have discovered by reading the ‘Kingdom of
the Ark’ by Lorraine Evans .
The following I have extracted from her book, and which I
believe may tie up with the Milieus who I have already referred to earlier.
now appeared another theory, the result of an excavation which took place in
1955 near the Hill of Tara, in Ireland, when a burial cairn known as the
Mound of Hostages was excavated. Amongst the grave goods was a necklace,
its beads when compared with Egyptian faience were found to be identical
making and design. Furthermore, another necklace found in the nineteenth
century in Devon appeared to be identical with this one found in Ireland.
The one found near the Hill of Tara is now in the Department of
Archaeology, Dublin but expected to end up in the National Museum of
Ireland, Dublin .[When I checked with Dublin on 21 May, 2002, they could
not tell me where the one found in Devon is]
Another remarkable find was in 1937, at Ferriby, Yorkshire, when
the remains of an ancient boat were found. These remains were identified
in the late 1950’s, carbon dated to between 1400-1350 BC and of a type
previously found in the area of the Mediterranean Sea.
Around about 1435 a manuscript
written in Latin by Walter Bower, Abbot of Inchcolm Abbey, a small
Augustinian monastery on a remote island off the north-east coast of
Scotland, wrote a In manuscript about the ancient Scots. the British Library
is a recent translation made by Professor
Donald Watt of th,e University of St. Andrews. The first Volume
titled “The Origins” spoke of an ancient time well before the Romans arrived
in southern Britain, when the north had been visited by Ancient Egyptians.
He claimed that they were led by an Egyptian princess – a Pharaoh’s daughter
“In ancient times, Scota, the
daughter of Pharaoh, left Egypt, with her husband, Gaythelos by name, and a
large following. For they had heard of the disasters which were going to
come upon, Egypt, and so through the instructdi9ons of the gods thetl fled
from certain plagues that were to come. They took to the sea, entrusting
themselves to the guidance of the gods. After sailing this way for many
days over the sea with troubled minds they were finally glad to put their
boats in at a certaion shore because of bad weather.”
This shore, Bower relates was
somewhere in the north of Britain.
Furthermore, there was a story that
the Egyptians had had a presence in Ireland about 1350 BC. In the Book of
Leinster, dated about 1150 and now in the care of the Irish, Texts Society:
In Dublin, there ls a reference to Scota only amounting to about two lines
- of Scota, the daughter of an Egyptian Pharaoh landing with, her
fleet on the shores of Ireland. See Macalister, Lebor Gabala, The Book
of the Taking of Ireland, Vol. 56, P,1
Not only in Ireland was thew story of
Scota in existence. Around 1050 Reimann, Abbot of Metzz in Moselle,
France, wrote a biography of the tenth century Scottish, Saint Cadroe,
beginning the biography with a brief history of Scotland where he explains
that the Scots claimed descent from “a certain Scota, the daughter of a
pharaoh of Egypt”.
Bower in his writings seems to have
taken his account from a Welsh source. He mentions the Historia Brittonum
[History of the Britons] by the ninth century monk, Nennius, from the abbey
of Bangor in Gwynd. Now preserved in the British Library is a manuscript
catalogued as Harley 3859, is an early twelfth century copy. However from
fragments of the earlier work which still survive there is indication of a
much easlier date for its original date of being written, sometime around
830 AD. Bower actually names the Pharaoh, the father of Sckota,
The works of Manetho record a Pharaoh
by the name of Achencres, which is Greek for Akhenaten. Therefore could
the mysterious Scota really be the daughter of Akhenaten. He and his wile
Nefertiti had six daughters. At the end of the
Amarna period only one could not be accounted for, and that
was Meritaten who vanished from Egyptian records without trace.
Could Meritaten be Scota? Could the
Conns be descended from her or her companions? THE MIND BOGGLES.
From The Buildings of England,
Yorkshire, The North Riding by Nikolaus Pevsner-1966 can be found
[a] Page 3…………..‘Whitby must take
precedence, founded in 657 and with excavated evidence of oblong huts and
one larger oblong building of that time, telling of a pre-Benedictine,
initially Egyptian and then Irish monastic life’.
[b] Pages 24-5
referring mainly to the Bewcastle and Ruthwell Crosses ‘………Here are
large, noble figures, in easy stance, their mantles draped in the classical
tradition, and vine scrolls with birds and beasts – all inspired by the
Early Christian art of the Eastern Mediterranean’.
[c] Page 388 relating to Whitby Abbey.
‘……….The monastery clearly belonged to the Celtic i.e. Irish, and
originally Egyptian type known as coenobitic [membership of a monasatic
community] with the inmates living in separate houses and having in common
only the church and probably the refectory’.
To add a little more spice to the story,
whilst reading a new book I had purchased on 16th May, 2002,
entitled “A Passion for Egypt”, pages 17-18, about the late Egyptologist
Arthur Weigall written by his grand-daughter Julie Hankey, in the late
nineteenth century Arthur Weigall was tracing through his own name and that
of Brome his Weigall grandmother’s name reaching back into Ireland. The
bizarre transition from this to Egyptian history is best told in his
“Now it happened that I also here
read up the family pedigree of my Irish grandmother, but most Irish families
trace their descent from Miletus, [my Milieus] their legendary [progenitor,
and Miletus is said in the old tales to have married a daughter of a Pharaoh
of Egypt” Thus I turned to books on Ancient Egypt, and therewith I became
so deeply interested in that romantic land that I forgot all about pedigrees
and family records and devoted all my spare time studying the history of the
Now to The Lords of the Isles were not
subject to the Scottish kings, but whom they supported or opposed as best
suited their interests. They acted in all respects as independent princes
and even entered treaties with King Richard 11 of England.
DONALD, second Lord of the Isles, had
married Mary or Margaret Lesley, only daughter of Euphemia,
the widowed Countess of Ross, who resigned her Earldom on the death of her
husband, Sir Walter Lesley, laid claim to the great Earldom, but his claim
was refused by the Duke of Albany. Donald raised an army of
10,000 men to enforce his claim and took possession of the disputed
territory. He then decided to advance on Aberdeen as he had often
threatened and set fire to it. He made swift progress until he was within
a days march of the city when he was met by a band of 1,000 knights under
the Earl of Mar. The “BATTLE OF HARLAW”took place on the 25th
July, 1411. Donald Kyntire, the second Lord of the Isles, and the
last great lord before the decline of that great clan, is remembered in the
north-east of Scotland for being the cause of this battle on the outskirts
of Inverurie. Donald’s army were Macleans, Mackintoshs, Camerons,
Mackinnons, MacLeods and all the vassals of the Lordship of
The courage of the “men of the Isles” were roused to fervour
by the stirring appeal of MacVurich to remember the ancient valour of
the name of “Conn” - “A cyhlanna chuinn
cuimhnichibncruas an am na-hiorghuill”. (Sons of Conn, remember hardihood in
time of strife”). **(Cl.D. P.8) The battle
lasted the whole day and ended in stalemate. Donald abandoned the scene and
retired northwards again by ‘Inverury and the hill of Benochy’. His wife
did become the Countess of Ross though the lands were passed to the Duke of
Albany a few years later.
ALEXANDER, brother to William Con
and Donald’s successor, razed the town of Inverness
to the ground with a similar army to that of his father’s, with
characteristic spirit and bravery, but was defeated by JAMES 1. He
presented himself before the king and implored royal clemency. His life
was spared but he was committed prisoner to the castle at Tantallon
where he spent a year in prison. In 1427 he was pardoned.
JOHN, the fourth Lord of the Isles,
and son of Alexander lost all his possessions in 1493 by the action
of his grandson, Donald Dubh who escaped from imprisonment in
Inchconnal. But he kept his title. He was the last proper ‘Lord
of the Isles’.
ANGUS [Aonghais Og] was assassinated
in 1490 by an Irish harper in the county of MacKenzie while
prosecuting his hostile designs.
DONALD DUBH, [prounced ‘doov’ or
‘duff’ meaning black] MACDONALD, was born about 1484, and assumed
the tittles of Ross And Lord of the Isles, was kidnapped as an infant by his
grandfather Colin Campbell, 1st Earl of Argylll; rescued in 1503
by a picked commando of Glencoe Macdonalds, from prison in the castle
of Inchconnal and burst into Badenoch which he ravaged with
fire and sword in 1503. He was eventually recaptured and spent
forty years in prison but made a second escape; was immediately proclaimed
King of Isles with the Hebrides rising in his support; was imprisoned for
another 38 years in Edinburgh Castle after the Rising was suppressed in
1506; escaped again in 1543, and the Hebrides again rose in his
support; he entered into a treaty with Henry V111 with the ‘advice
and consent of our Barons and Council of the Iseles. He died in 1545
at Drogheda, Ireland after a fever of five nights. He had a son
but nothing is known about him.
From the earliest times the history of the
MacDonalds was closely bound up with Ireland and in particular with
Ulster, and their name, its variants, and those of their “septs” represent
one of the largest family groups in Ulster. From the time of their
descent from Conn of the. . Battles, through two thousand years of
interaction, intermarriage, and war, they represent, in genealogical
terms, an impressive bridge between the peoples of Scotland and
Ireland. [Northern Ireland Political Collection, Linen Hall, Belfast].