Saturday, April 18, 2009

Duncan "Ladosach "MacGregor

Duncan Ladasach, whom the "Baronage" says had acquired the lands of Arddhoill, was the object of terror and aversion to Sir Colin Campbell of Glenurquhay, the 6th Lord Campbell. The "Black Book of Taymouth" give a satirical ballad called "Duncan Laideus alis Makgregouris Testament". The writers abuse of the warrior and gall show his distaste for the man, who was feuding with his clan.

The following is from the Black Book of Taymouth:

"Colene sext Laird of Glenurquay" that he "was Laird induring the space of threttie three zeiris, in the quhilk tyme he conquesit the few of the kingis landis and Charter-hous landis in Braydalbane, the takis quhairoff his predecessouris obtenit,"

"In addition to this he had acquired the 'superioritie of McNab his haill landis.' He was actually possessor of the greater part, and with the exception of Struan's small Barony of Fernay, or Fernan, and a few other small bits of land, was Lord Superior and Bailie of the different Baronies and Lordships of Breadalbane. With the most ample feudal privileges, and though his predecessors had land and manrent in the district for nearly a century, he was still but a stranger in a strange land, in which his footing was but precarious, and the authority granted by the King far from being satisfactorily acknowledged and obeyed. At that time the feudal charter, until the title of the holder was recognized and confirmed by the so-called vassals, according to the old Celtic custom, that is by acknowledging him as chief, and granting him the calp of chieftainship, was little else than a piece of useless parchment. A landlord in order to have the use and mastery of his possessions, must either conciliate or extirpate the inhabitants. The Laird of Glenorquhay was not in a position to adopt the latter alternative, and he therefore eagerly and skillfully seized upon the former. Breadalbane was at that time inhabited mostly by several old colonies or sections of distant clans, who had come under the auspices of different lord-superiors, to occupy the places of those ancient inhabitants upon whom confiscation and death had fallen on account of their accession to the long sustained, and to Bruce almost fatal, opposition of McDougal of Lorn. The inhabitants of Breadalbane were thus made up from five or more separate sources,and except the McNabs, a supposed branch of the ClanGregor, none of the sections had a chieftain. This gave the Laird of Glenurguhay the precious opportunity of establishing his judicial authority, and the band of manrent and calp of Ceann-Cine naturally followed, from men alive to feelings of gratitude, for having been by the aid of the Bailie rescued from oppressors, and confirmed in their rights. Every act of judicial authority added what was both absolutely necessary for the safe excercize of authority and the gradual vindication of feudal possessions, a willing recruit to the standard of the 'justiciar'. It may sound strange to present landlords that, three hundred years ago, a proprietor could excercise no privilege of property till mutual kindness produced a bond of brotherhood between him and his vassals, till a democratic election confirmed the royal charter and the calp of clanship superseded the feudal enfeoffment. No suspicion appears to have crossed the Celtic mind that despicable parchment right to the soil was sufficient to confer the personal pre-eminence which, in the absence of hereditary chiefs, they, even they, with their wild notions of unrestrained freedom, had for the sake of internal union, and for giving edge to defensive or offensive policy, found it at all times requisite to support, but which as uniformly they had insisted upon creating for themselves, through means of a rude election."

The sum up the meaning of this passage, regardless of whether or not the King gave land to a man or not, if the clans living on it did not agree to him being the overlord, he would not be recognized as such. This was even true when a man inherited clan lands from his father. He was not necessarily guaranteed to be recognised as clan leader by virtue of birth. He still had to be chosen by the men of the clan as their leader.

The History of the Clan Gregor goes on to show a charter draw up June 2, 1547, that says that the MacGregors and the other clans chose of their own free will, for John Campbell of Glenorchy to be their chief and their protector. This means that not only were they obligated to them, he was also obligated to them as their protector.

The book shows another charter from 1550 which shows a man named Alexander McPatrick stating he will be a faithful servant to Colin Campbell of Glenorchy, and that if there is a disagreement between his chief McGregor and Colin Campbell, that this Alexander McPatrick VcCondoquay will side with Colin Campbell.

The Black Book of Taymouth also has another cocument that says:
"On the 26th of November 1551, 'The Queen's advocate set forth that Duncan Laudes and Gregour hsi sone recently namely opoun Sounday the 22nd day of November instant at sex houris at even under silence of nycht, be way of hamesukin, cam to the hous of Alaster ower, alias McGregoure, servand to Coline Campbell of Glenurquhay of the landis or Moreis and be force tuke him furth of his said hous, and be way of murthure straik him with whingearis and crewellie slew him and spulxeit and tuke fra him his purs, and in it the soume of fourty poundis incontinent thireftir past to the landis of Killing to the hous of ane pure man callit Johne McBayne Pipare, and thair assegit the said hous and brak the durris thairof and be force tuke the said Johhne furth of the samyn, and straik his heid fro his body and crewellie slew him and gaif him divers uther straikis with whingearis in his body."

Duncan Ladosach and his son were afterward outlawed and put to the horn. Sir Colin Campbell engaged certain persons to pursue the said Duncan; in this case, as in many others, the Laird of Glenurchy having recourse to strangers, and not to his own clan.

James Stewart issued a document that said, that in order to help Colin Campbell and his heirs, Duncan Campbell and his son and Archibald Campbell and his heirs, that he would use all his powers,kin and friends to invade and pursue to the death, Duncan Ladosach McGregor, Gregor his son, their servants, part takers and accomplices in all bounderies and countries and that they are his deadly enemies and rebels. Also that he will pay the expenses of Colin and Duncan Campbell. This is dated 11th day of March, 1551.

The following year Colin Campbell made peace with McGregor.

"Be it kend to all men--Me Colyne Campbell of Glenurquhay grants me to have ressavit Duncane McGregour and Gregour his sone into my mainteinance in all thir just actions in so far as I may of law, and gude conscience, and atour to have forgevine the saidis Duncan and Gregour thair sarvandis complices and part takers the zeil of luf and gude conxcience moving me to the samyn,....providing the saidis Duncane and Gregour fulfill thair band and manrent maid to me and my airis in all pointis. 2nd day of May 1552"

The timing of this agreement seems strange until you take the following into account:

In the History of the Clan Gregor is a quote from another book called Lairds of Glenlyon, which I will paraphrase.

Duncan MacGregor had committed great hardships on the Campbell lands and in particular those of Cambell of Glenurchay. Colin Campbell did all he could to take him dead or alive. But Duncan MacGregor eluded him and continued to commit even greater depredations. Glenurchay offered terms of amity and peace and proposed a conference at the recently built castle of Balloch (Taymouth), with a number of friends from both sides, in order to settle their disputes. Glenurchy (Colin Campbell) did this deceitfully, in order to capture MacGregor and his followers, while they had their guard down. MacGregor left for Balloch at the appointed time, in the company of the number of men agreed upon. At the top of Drummond, the hill that overlooks the castle and meadows of Taymouth, they met an old man, who on bended knees, in front of a hugh grey stone appeared to be repeating his orisons in a state of great distress. When MacGregor saw this strange thing and approached the old man, he found that the old man was reciting prayers for the dead, in between the words of the prayers, he mixed these words, 'To thee, grey stone, I tell it, but when the black bull's head appears, McGregors sword can hardly save the owner's fated head. Deep in the dungeon, sharp the axe--and short the shrift.' MacGregor saw that a trap was being set for him and that the old man had taken a round about means of alerting him to the danger, because he feared Colin Campbell.

MacGregor went ahead to the meeting anyway. Colin Campbell met his cordially and with the appearance of kindness. Dinner was served for them in a great hall of the castle, and each Campbell sat with a MacGregor on his right hand, which put the MacGregors at a disadvantage when the fighting broke out. When the 'Black Bull's Head' was brought out, armed men also came in from an adjoining chamber, and the MacGregors took an attitude of defense. Duncan MacGregor grabbed a dagger that he had been using to cut his meat from the table and held it to the heart of Colin Campbell while he had the other hand around his throat.

His men followed his lead and they left, taking with them Colin Campbell and some of his principal retainers. His other armed men let them pass for fear of Colin's life. Duncan took a boat at Kenmore, and dragged his captive to the top of Drummond and forced him to sign a pardon and remission for all past injuries and a promise of future friendship.

The Baronage has a different account saying that Gregor MacGregor and not his father was the one who went to the meeting and took some of his attackers with him and that he tried to swim across the water of the Lochy received several stab wounds from them in the process. When they made it to the other side, they finished him off. And in order to further the insult, sent his horse to his father who went to find out what terrible thing had happened and was also killed. Colin Campbell proceeded to seize the entire estate of the MacGregors. This happened in June 1552.

The "Chartulary" shows the following:
"1552. Interfectio et decapito Duncani McGregor et filiorum eius vidilicet Gregorii et Malmi Roy per Colinum Campbell de Glenwrquhay et per Duncaniium Roy Campbell de Glenlyon et Allexandrum Menzheis de Rannoch cum suis complicibus, quo die Joannes Gour McDuncan VcAllexandrum Kayr fuit interfectus per Alexandrum Menzies de apud in mense Junii xvi anno Domni ave M.V. Lij.

The Black Book says that Colin Campbell personally beheaded the Laird of McGregor at Kenmore in the presence of the Earl of Atholl, the justice clerk and other noblemen.

The Black Book of Taymouth villifies Duncan MacGregor for having killed so many people but in historical context, he was no worse than many of his peers. Colin Campbell killed many more.


History of the Clan Gregor
By Amelia Georgiana Murray MacGregor, Clan Gregor Society

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