Sìol Alpin no na Griogaraich
(Seed of Alpin or the MacGregors)
Evolution of the Ruling Families of Clan Gregor
(including events of significance in chronological order)
9th Century AD
Chiefs were elected from among ruling families of each glen: GlenLyon, GlenLochy and GlenStrae. This was a period of anarchy in Scotland Picts seek help from Dalriadic Scots in face of horrific incursions by heathen Viking marauders.
The Picts lost control of Alba to Scots through intermarriages. King Girig or Grig (Gregor), a Pict, and maternal nephew of Kenneth MacAlpin (was was half Pict) ruled Alba from 882 to 893. The Pict language and culture was overwhelmed by Scots. Isolated Picts and Scots in western Perthshire glens came together to defend against encroaches by powerful expanding Dalriadic Scottish tribes from nearby Argyll, to the west.
10th Century AD
Chiefs were elected from among ruling families of each glen: Glen Lyon, and Glen Lochy
Finghin was the Abbot of Glen Dochart in 966. He was a man of action, he packed his bags and went to Rome for an audience with the Pope. Finghin's answer to the problem of getting Pictish successors to the Abthanerie in Glen Dochart and elsewhere, (for he was titular Abbot of Iona), was quite simple. He would provide them himself, if he could get the Papal sanction to marry. This the Pope readily granted. The precedent was set for Pictic Abbots to marry and spawn their own clans.
In this way, arose the clan Finghin (MacKinnon), and MacNab (son of the abbot). There are many other clans, (Macpherson, MacAustillan, and MacVicar) that had Pictic churchmen as their founders, but the MacGregors were different. They always signed official documents as: (i.e. Donaldus Gregorii) signifying they were members of the Gregory group or clan, but not necessarily descendants by paternal bloodlines. There is a Gaelic tradition that Finghin was a grandson of King Girig, however there were several notable "Gregors" after his death, indicating that there was no stigma attached to the name. Some of the Glen Dochart or Strathearn people were known to be directly descended from Girig by other grandchildren.
However, in those early years, many of the Gregarach were not sure, and, the clan had, according to Pictic custom, assimilated everyone who lived in the area as full clan family members from both paternal and maternal family lines of descent. To properly include every man, it was agreed to drop 'Mac' from the proper name of the Clan. To this day MacGregors are referred to as Clan 'Gregor', not clan 'MacGregor', although in those early days were referred to as Clan MacAlpin.
Griogair of "Golden Bridles" - the name-father and thus the first chief of the Clan known as Clan Gregor, died 19 April 1390. He is buried on the north side of the high altar in Dysart near Dalmally, the old church in Glen Orchy. This continued to be the burial place of Clan Gregor chiefs until 1528. A number of stone coffins together with foliated tomb slabs each showing in a panel the figure of an armed warrior with spear and two-handed sword, short tunic and high, conical, pointed helmet were found when the old church was demolished.
Griogair spawned four principal Clan Gregor families, these were Glen Strae, Glen Carnaig, Roro, and Glen Gyle. The Chiefs originally were of the Glen Orchy branch, then the Glen Strae branch which died out as a result of long persecution. Leadership then often switched from one to the other of the remaining families, depending on which was perceived as the more capable of handling the position.
Clan MacAlpin expanded westward into Glen Orchy, assimilated many Dalriadic Scots of eastern Argyll and in a few generation became the most aggressive of the Clan families.
11th Century AD
According to Buchanan of Auchmar, Clan Gregor was located in Glen Orchy before the reign of Malcolm Canmore (1057-1093). Hugh of Glen Orchy appears to have been the first of the Chiefs who was so styled. Before this, the Clan system as we know it, did not exist. The Supreme Chief elected from among ruling families from each glen.
12th Century AD
In 1124, King David brought 1,000 Norman nobles into Scotland and granted them land seized from native clans, mostly in the lowlands in the south. He introduced the feudal system to consolidate control over a difficult mountainous country where only local Chiefs commanded obedience. The Lowlands quickly succumbed. The Highlands took much longer.
The Glen Orchy family gains supreme hereditary Chieftainship of the entire Clan Gregor. Clan Gregor begins transformation into a quasi-feudal clan under pressure of Kings in Edinburgh.
13th Century AD
In 1222, King Alexander II bestows Glen Orchy to Clan Gregor for their help in conquering the Nordic/Scots in Argyll. Bruce grants Loch Awe to Campbells, who also claim Glen Orchy. In 1100, Clan MacAlpin changed its name to Clan Gregor to consolidate control over all former Clan MacAlpin property, and to resist Campbell efforts to encroach on Clan Gregor territory.
Clan Gregors lost influence at the usurped Norman royal court. Campbells were granted Loch Awe by Bruce, then blockaded MacGregor glens by sea Glen Orchy.
14th Century AD
The Campbells became most powerful clan in Argyll, encroached on Glen Orchy, Glen Strae, Glen Lyon and Glen Lochy. The Campbells became hereditary Sheriffs, continued their land acquisitions with force of law. John of Bruckleg, (2nd son of Iain "Cham" MacGregor of Glenorchy), (b: 1329) founder of the Brackley MacGregors of Glen Carnaig, defeated the MacNabs at Crianlarich. Iain Dubh was the 3rd Chief: b c1360, d Stronmelochan 1415 and founder of the MacGregors of Glen Strae.
15th Century AD
Seat of the Clan Chief moved to Glen Strae. Glen Orchy became extinct. Lochaber of Glen Lochy remained, while Glen Lyon became extinct. Brackley Roro Dughaill Ciar Gregor Aulin MacGregor, who was the 6th son of Iain Cham, was the last MacGregor Laird of Glen Orchy who died owning the ancestral lands there in free tenure and not as undertenants of the Earls of Argyll. This loss of free tenure of the family estates occurred abt 1435.
Duncan "Beg" MacGregor, died 17th Feb 1477, was chief, and eldest son of Gregor Aulin MacGregor, and ancestor of the MacGregors of Roro. The house of Roro inherited the representation of the extinct house of Glen Lyon. Dughaill Ciar MacGregor, born about 1416, was the youngest son of Gregor Aulin, ancestor of the Glen Gyle MacGregors. Dughaill Ciar was so termed from a peculiar gray color of eyes and hair. He settled in the parish of Balquhidder in Perthshire, a few miles east of Glen Orchy in Argylshire, the ancient home of his ancestors. He established a branch of the MacGregors which continued in Balquhidder for over three centuries.
By 1440, Clan Gregor lost all their Argyleshire lands. Colin Campbell became the first Campbell Earl of Glen Orchy and began expelling MacGregors, Fletchers and MacGruders, replacing them with Campbells. Patrick of GlenStrae, the 5th chief, was faced with an ever-increasing encroachment of his territory by Sir Colin Campbell, whose father, Clan Campbell chief had granted him the superiority of Glenorchy in 1432, died at his fortress of Stronmelo-chan 28 April 1461.
In 1488, Campbell and Stewart Lords are given Royal permits to exterminate displaced Gregarach. Stewarts annihilated MacIvers, and MacLivers in Glen Lyon, then sold it to the Campbells. Clan Gregor retreated east into Perthshire.
16th Century AD
GlenStrae becomes the senior branch with hereditary right of Chieftainship Glen Strae Lochaber (of Glen Lochy) Brackley (of GlenCarnaig) Roro (rep. Glen Lyon). Dughaill Ciar (of GlenGyle) John Dhu nan Lann, the last of the house of Glen Lyon, died soon after 1500. The house of Roro inherited the representation of the extinct house of Glen Lyon.
When Iain Dubh II of the house of Glen Strae died in 1519, he left no heir. Passing over the senior houses of Brackley and Roro, the MacGregors' superiors (landlords), the Campbells of Glen Orchy, imposed the succession of Iain dubh, chieftain of the line known as Clan Dughaill Ciar, residing in Glen Gyle, as 7th Chief of MacGregor. This was because Iain had married to the daughter of Sir Colin Campbell of Glen Orchy, who hoped to control the Gregarach through his son-in-law. These MacGregors proved the most unruly of all. In 1571, Grioghair ruadh of Glen Strae, 10th Clan Chief, was executed by Colin Campbell.
17th Century AD
The Campbells pursued and murdered the ruling family of Glen Strae until it was rendered ineffective Ladasach (formerly of Glen Strae) Glen Carnaig Roro Glen Gyle (most powerful) Balhaldie (wealthiest) Lochaber (formerly of Glen Lochy).
This was another period of anarchy in Scotland, MacGregors become landless. By April 1601, John Vallich, younger son of Gregor of Roro was residing at Strath Allan, prospered, and founded the house of Balhaldie at Strath Allan. In 1604, Grand Chief Alasdair ruadh MacGregor of Glen Strae sent out the Fiery Cross to gather Gregarach for retribution for the slaying of two MacGregors by Colquhouns Robert Aberach MacGregor, Chief of the Lochaber MacGregors, and a brilliant military strategist, planned the battle of Glen Fruin. He was the eldest son of Duncan Abrach.
Malcom Og MacGregor, Chief of the Glen Gyle MacGregors, led the Gregarach in their victory over a combined force of Colquhouns, Buchanans, Grahams, and a detachment of Dunbar militia at Glen Fruin. In 1604, the 11th Clan Chief, Alasdair Ruadh of Glen Strae, accepted responsibility for Glen Fruin, was betrayed by the Earl of Argyll, and executed nearly a year after Glen Fruin, along with 10 of his relatives.
Glen Strae and Glen Lochy were seized by the Earl of Argyll The disinherited line, the Glen Strae MacGregors, known in Gaelic as the 'Children of the Mist' (though some say the real name was the 'Sons of the Wolf') carried on the resistance with some success, involving the usurping chiefs in their brigandage. The Campbells resorted to a campaign of treachery, murder, and annihilation of the Glen Strae line of Chiefs. They concentrated on three generations, which they hunted down and murdered. Duncan Ladassach 'the lordly' MacGregor of Ardchoille, Tutor of Glenstrae, and the rightful Chief, was the leader of all the most recalcitrant Gregarach of his time.
After Glenstrae was lost to the clan, the Glen Strae line became known as the "House of Ladassach". They continued to form the Grand Chiefs of the clan even though the family was severely weakened and rendered ineffective by Campbell predation. Their position was held simply through the utmost respect and admiration held by all Gregarach, who never forgot the sacrifices made by this, the bravest of all Clan lines. Archibald, of Ladassach was an ineffective Chief, so Donald Glas MacGregor of Glenstrae, Lt. Col. in King James VII's (James II of England) Scottish army, assumed the responsibilities of defacto Chief of the Clan Gregor and financially supported the Clan Gregor apparatus.
Donald Glas was imprisoned after the battle of Killiekrankie until 31 October 1691 in Edinburgh's notorious Tolbooth. He was released but died from injuries he received while being tortured, buried after 1693.
18th Century AD
The Glenstrae/Ladasach line died out in 1714. Despite Ian Og of the House of Glencarnaig being the next senior claimant, Alasdair of Balhaldie was elected Chief in 1714 by 5 ruling families. John Murray of Glen Carnaig was elected Chief in 1774 by an assembly of over 800 Gregarach. Ladasach of Glen Strae (became extinct in 1714) Glencarnaig (next in seniority) (passed by in 1714) (became Chief 1774).
Roro (representing Glen Lyon) (abdicated 1760) Brackley (Lochaber) (scattered) Balhaldie (most wealthy) Ciar Mohr of Glen Gyle (Most powerful) (last in seniority) Death of Archibald of Kilmonnan in 1714, last of the Glen Strae line. In 1714 Alasdair MacGregor (William Drummond) of Balhaldie, was elected as Chief. He was succeeded by his son, Alexander, in the late 1760s. Part of the agreement to his succession was for him to allay the Queen's pension to him as Chief and divide it among the major Houses of Glencarnaig, Roro, and Glen Gyle.
Gregor "Ghlun Dhu" of Glen Gyle, born in 1688, bought the lands of Glen Gyle in 1703. With MacGregor of Glencarnaig, he was joint Colonel of the Jacobite MacGregor regiment in 1745. In March of 1740, the Balhaldie line was recognized by James VIII as the superior house of Clan Gregor by the declaration of Alexander and his heirs as "Knights and Baronets of the Ancient realm of Scotland".
After Culloden, in 1746, the Clan system was abolished by the victorious Hanoverians . Also at point in history of repression of the Highlander, the "Black Watch" was initiated by the Hanoverian-supportive Campbells of Argyle and others. These government troops were chosen from those serving clan chiefs who had aligned with the Crown. Their missioin was to "watch" the Highlanders and repress any groups and individuals bearing weapons and wearing tartans and kilts.
On 1st April 1760, Duncan MacGregor, (alias Gordon) impoverished by being on the losing side of the rebellion of 1745, renunciated his claim to the Roro estate, causing the House of Roro to lose their voice in Clan Gregor affairs, descendents emigrated to Australia. In 1774, when the Act of Proscription was finally repealed, there was another election by 800 Gregarach in attendance.
General John (Murray) MacGregor of Lanrick, descended from the Brackley-Glen Carnaig line, became the new Chief. He was elected while Alexander of Balhaldie was still alive and serving in the army in the West Indies. The Glencarnaig line (renamed Glencarnoch) provides current chiefs.
19th Century AD to Present
House of Lanrick/Glencarnoch Clan Gregor Society inc. 1822
Sir Evan John MacGregor 1785-1841, 21st Chief, founded the Clan Gregor Society in 1822.
List of Chiefs since the clan's name was officially changed to Clan Gregor:
Griogair of the Golden Bridles, b~1300; d~1360
Iain cam (Iain of the One-Eye), son of Griogair, .b~1325; obit.1390
Iain dubh, son of Iain cam, b~1350; obit.1415
Gille-coluim (Malcolm "the lame lord"), son of Iain dubh, b~1375; obit.1440
Padraig, son of Gille-coluim, b~1405; obit.1461
Iain dubh, son of Padraig, b~1440 obit.1519 (his son Maol-coluim dsp 1498)
Iain MacEoghan, gt-gt-gt-grandson of #3.
Iain dubh, b~1480; obit 1528
Alasdair ruadh of Glenstrae, son of Iain MacEoghan, b~1515; obit 1547
Iain ruadh, son of Alasdair ruadh, b~1540; obit 1550
Griogair ruadh of Glenstrae 'The arrow of Glen Lyon', brother of Iain ruadh, b~1541; executed 1571
Alasdair ruadh of GlenStrae, son of Griogair ruadh, b~1569; executed 1604 (English names used from this point onwards)
Gregor, nephew of Alasdair ruadh, b~1599; ob 1629 (forced to sell Glenstrae to Campbells)
Patrick Roy, brother of Gregor, b~1600; d~1650s
James, son of Patrick Roy d~1670s (?)