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The History of the Conn Family

 

[ Ayrshire ] [ Introduction ] [ CONNACHT ] [ Cormac Mac Airt ] [ The Seven Kingdoms ] [The First Irish Connection] [ The Scottish Connection ] [ Conn of Auchry ] [ Irish-Scottish Connection ] [ England ] [ Great War ] [World War] [ Historical Scene ] [ Conclusions of Investigation ]  

THE ORIGIN OF THIS ANCIENT AND HISTORICAL SCOTTISH-IRISH  SURNAME AND ITS ROCKY PATH INTO  THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY 

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 CONNs 

with

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 :- alecconn@teesdaleonline.co.uk

  

 

  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

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.

 

 
  Cormac 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)  www.monmouth.com/~rryan/coatarm2.htm  

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. 

 

 
  THE 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.* (IKHK) 

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 language. 

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. **(CL.d.p.3) 

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 Alba, was 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 and bards.**(Cl.D.p.8) 

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)

 

 
 

THE SCOTTISH  CONNECTION 

1100AD   TO   1450AD

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. 

SOMERLED MacGillebride,  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) 

SOMERLED  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 in Kintyre. 

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] . 

This may 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. 

There has 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 called Scota. 

“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, as Achenacres

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 words:- 

“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 Pharaohs. 

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 Isles

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].

 

 

 

 

   
 

 

 

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