Clan Macgillivray

Clan Macgillivray
Clan Macgillivray
Crest badge
Clan member crest badge - Macgillivray.svg
Motto: Touch not this cat.[1]
War cry: Dunmaghlas.[1]
Plant badge Boxwood (Latin: Buxus sempervirens) (Scottish Gaelic: Bocsa).[1] & Red Whortleberry (Latin: Vaccinium vitis-idaea) (Scottish Gaelic: Lus nam braoileag).[1]
Pipe music "Loch Moidh" (Loch Moy)[2]
Clan Macgillivray has no chief, and is an armigerous clan

Clan Macgillivray is a Scottish clan. The clan does not currently have a chief therefore it is considered an Armigerous clan.



Origins of the clan

The MacGillivrays were a principal clan even before King Somerled, progenitor of the MacDonalds drove the Norsemen from the western Isles. The Clann Mhic Gillebràth were dispersed after King Alexander II of Scotland subdued Argyll in the year 1222.

14th century & clan conflicts

The Clan MacGillivray eventually joined the Chattan Confederation which was headed by the chief of the Clan Mackintosh. The clan have always distinguished themselves by their prowess and bravery. One of them, Ivor MacGillivray was killed at Drumlui in a battle with the Clan Cameron in about the year 1330. Ivor was the son of chief Duncan MacGillivray. This Duncan married a natural daughter of the sixth Clan Mackintosh chief.

15th century

A hundred years later, in about the middle of the fifteenth century, the chief of the MacGillivrays appears to have been a certain Ian Ciar (Brown). At any rate, when William, fifteenth chief of the Mackintoshes, was infefted in the estate of Moy and other lands held from the Bishop of Moray, the names of a son and two grandsons of this Ian Ciar appear in the list of witnesses. Other Mackintosh documents show the race to have been settled by that time on the lands of Dunmaglass (the fort of the grey man’s son), belonging to the thanes of Cawdor.

16th century

Ian Ciar MacGillivray was apparently succeeded by a son, Duncan, and he again by his son Ferquhar, who, in 1549, gave letters of reversion of the lands of Dalmigavie to Robert Dunbar of Durris. Ferquhar’s son, again, Alastair, in 1581 paid forty shillings to Thomas Calder, Sheriff-Depute of Nairn and chief of Clan Calder for " two taxations of his £4 lands of Domnaglasche, granted by the nobility to the King."

It was in his time, in 1594, that the MacGillivrays fought in the royal army under the young Earl of Argyll at the disastrous Battle of Glenlivet.

17th century

A romanticised Victorian-era illustration of a Macgillivray clansman by R. R. McIan from The Clans of the Scottish Highlands published in 1845.

Alastair’s son, Ferquhar, appears to have been a minor in 1607 and 1609, for in the former of these years his kinsman Malcolm MacBean was among the leading men of Clan Chattan called to answer to the Privy Council for the good behaviour of Clan Chattan during the minority of Sir Lachlan Mackintosh its chief; and in the latter year, when a great band of union was made at Termit, near Inverness, between the various septs of Clan Chattan, responsibility for the " haill kin and race of the Clan M’Illivray" was accepted by Malcolm MacBean, Ewen M Ewen, and Duncan MacFerquhar, the last-named being designated as tenant in Dunmaglass, and being probably an uncle of young Ferquhar MacGillivray. The Macgilivrays were one of the oldest and most important of the clans of the Chattan Confederation, and from 1626, when their head, Ferquhard MacAllister, acquired a right to the lands of Dunmaglass, frequent mention of them is found in extant documents and registers.

18th century & Jacobite Risings

As Episcopalians they were persecuted by Calvinist and Presbyterian neighbours yet fought both in the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite uprisings including the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715 and the Battle of Falkirk (1746). Chief Alexander MacGillivray led the Chattan Confederation where he was killed at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. A wall at Culloden where he fell still bears his name. He is perhaps the best known of the heads of this clan. He was fourth in descent from the Ferquhard who acquired Dunmaglass in the 17th century . This gentleman was selected by Lady Mackintosh to head her husband's clan on the side of Prince Charlie in the '45, even though the chief of Clan Mackintosh was loyal to the government. Lady Mackintosh ensured the Mackintoshes and their allies supported the Jacobites.

The MacGillivray chief was shot through the heart. His body, after lying for some weeks in a pit where it had been thrown with others, was taken up by his friends and buried across the threshold of the kirk of Petty. His brother William was also a warrior, and gained the rank of captain in the old 89th regiment, raised in about 1758. After the Battle of Culloden the clan emigrations began across the Atlantic. Some of the MacGillivrays emigrated to Nova Scotia between 1792 and 1812 where they settled primarily in Antigonish County. Members of the Canadian MacGillivrays can be found in settlements such as Maple Ridge, Bailey's Brook, Lakevale and Arisaig, Antigonish County where they were able to maintain a Gaelic speaking culture well into the twentieth century. According to recent Canadian census material, the surname MacGillivray is the third most common surname in Antigonish County and many more MacGillivrays can be found throughout Cape Breton.

MacGillivray families today

Some MacGillivray families live on the East Coast in New York & Massachusetts, and the clan was also one of the clans who brought domesticated European varieties of potatoes to the Americas.

Clan chief

The last chief to live at Dunmaglass was the 13th laird, Capt. John William MacGillivray, who had to sell his estate and died without an heir in 1914.[3] The chiefship then passed to a cousin of his, John Farquhar MacGillivray, who lived in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[3] John Farquhar MacGillivray was chief for 32 years when he died in 1942 without an heir, and the last chief of Clan MacGillivray.[3] Another Canadian, Col. George B. Macgillivray, later petitioned Lord Lyon King of Arms three times between 1953 to 1989 to be recognised as chief.[3] Lord Lyon, not satisfied with the proofs Macgillivray submitted, denied him status of chief, but commissioned him as Commander of the Clan. Macgillivray served as Commander for five years before dying in 1994, and to this day the clan remains without a leader.[3]A Dr Angus MacGillivary {d,1947} tried to claim the Chieftainship but was unable to prove his lineage-although he was awarded a variation of the Macgillivray coat of Arms in 1914[4] Possibly the Chieftainship lineage has not died out-Lachlan McGillivray {1718-1799}-the father of Alexander McGillivray and the great-uncle of William McIntosh and related to George Troup, is reported to have been of the Lineage Chiefs line.

Associated names

Clan MacGillivray does not have any septs, though common variations of the names MacGillivray and McGillivray, associated with the clan, are listed as follows.[5] Note that the prefix Mac/Mc are interchangeable, as well as the capitalisation of the second syllable.[5]

  • MacGillavery.[5]
  • MacGillavry.[5]
  • MacGillivary.[5]
  • MacGillivoor.[5]
  • MacGillivrey.[5]
  • MacGillivry.[5]
  • MacGillvary.[5]
  • MacGillveary.[5]
  • MacGillviray.[5]
  • MacGillvray.[5]
  • MacGillvrey.[5]
  • MacGilvary.[5]
  • MacGilveray.[5]
  • MacGilvery.[5]
  • MacGilvra.[5]
  • MacGilvray.[5]
  • MacGilvreay.[5]
  • MacGilvry.[5]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d The Clan MacGillivray Website Retrieved on 2007-10-12
  2. ^ The Scottish clans andtheir tartans : with notes ([1900?)], Publisher: Edinburgh : W. & A.K. Johnston
  3. ^ a b c d e To Find a Chief Retrieved on 2007-11-11
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad Common Variants of "MacGillivray" & "McGillivray" Retrieved on 2007-10-12

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