Proof of Macbeth’s child? [closed]

+13 votes
Pertaining to [[Macbeth-163]]

I’ve read up a lot on Macbeth, “King of Scotland,” (a dubious title in that age) Peter Beresford Ellis’ being the best, and none give a Macbeth a child of his body. The Wikipedia article doesn’t list one. Shakespeare following Holinshed doesn’t give one.  A step-son, yes, Lulach the Fool. So, what evidence do we have for the listing of a son, the progenitor of the Finleys? I’m not averse to having Macbeth as an ancestor, as I have Finleys in my line. Was there something in the Irish Annals, or some such?
WikiTree profile: Macbeth King of Scots
closed with the note: Answered. Thanks to all for your help.
in Genealogy Help by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.8m points)
closed by Pip Sheppard

The other issue is that King Macbeth is not the only Macbeth in Scottish records.  Although from a slightly later period a search of People of Medieval Scotland reveals there are several men named Macbeth in records.

It is equally as possible that someone has found a Macbeth in a genealogy and assumed it is King Macbeth.

That's a very good point -- Macbeth's long and generally successful reign would surely have made his name popular in Scotland for a good while after his death.

Of course it's also possible that Clan Finlay's traditional descent from Macbeth is a later invention inspired by the fact that King Macbeth's father was named Finlay.
Many comments on the subject have no grounding in anything but casual opinion, and are written by people who are marginally related to Finleys, if at all.

Blake, my motives, as I am sure are the motives of other people responding to this G2G, are to support the WikiTree Honor Code, that we have all signed.

Particularly number II - We care about accuracy. We're always aiming to improve upon our worldwide family tree and fix mistakes

and number VIII - We cite sources. Without sources we can't objectively resolve conflicting information.

It's just as logical, maybe moreso, that if MacBeth had an heir, he or she was not allowed to hold the throne after MacBeth was defeated by a dynasty that did not want his family to rule again at that point.  Also, read about the conditions under which he rose to power... the claim that he was from a previous ruling family or family branch that returned to power, followed by a power struggle that ended in his defeat after all, in event concurrent or nearly concurrent with the aggressive Norman invasion and takeover of Britain. Albert Finley France's "House of Finley" explains the sequence of events as he understood them to be, and he claimed in 1939 to have been utilizing genealogical information given to him by a Professor John Finley at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. It would be interesting to see what, if any, records remain of Professor Finley's research. Itt has been implied in various histories that the Finleys had to go into hiding and use the name Farquharson (having descended from Farquahar), or to leave Scotland altogether at various points in time within the last 10 centuries, as it fell under rule from London, and measures were apparently taken to try to insure that the Finleys did not return to claim rule in Scotland again.  However, if a later genealogy I have seen is correct, Finleys intermarried into British royal lines of later years -- during an entire millennium that has unfolded since then), at which point any residual power struggle began to come to an end, and England and Scotland were indeed unified as one. Grounds for war or division were over.  I'm now working on getting Albert Finley France's 'House of Finley' text more accessible.  People who have investigated the specifics in depth can argue about what Finley descendant US Navy Major A F France wrote and US Navy Rear Admiral Stout (married to a Finley).  And it would be interesting trace down which Professor John Finley in Glasgow whom he wrote of.

Stout, in 'Clan Finley' indicates that A F France's research served as the foundation for his, and both admitted there were possible errors that they strove to avoid.  The most obvious ones, as usual, being problems due to namesake confusion and the relatively limited ability in the 1930s to 1950s to access records.

As mentioned elsewhere, the current British royal family has indicated, on one of their websites, that Shakespeare's history of MacBeth is historically inaccurate, which may be a very diplomatic understatement, if what France wrote is true.

And if the Finleys were as influential, a thousand years and more ago, as France and Stout claimed, then the family history may have been among historical records difficult to uncover, if not destroyed by those desirous to erase the history of their influence.

I will throw these questions to the Scotland group to see what, if anything, anyone has to say, assuming they can say what they think if the subject is not still taboo.  What I can say is that native Scot recently appeared to shift radically from cordiality to fear of further discussion after I mentioned my descent from the Finley 'clan', or whatever such relationships are called in the 21st century.  The past is real, but you can't make it happen again, except in fantasies.  The glories of monarchies are gone.  But the blood, or genetics, of ancestors is not.
Blake, there is absolutely no evidence written at or near the time Macbeth lived that states he had any children at all, apart from his step-son Lulach.

There are no conspiracy theories or missing or hidden evidence that state an alternative.

I know it's difficult to set aside the stories we might have been told by our grandparents or read in books, but almost all us have had to do it at some point, including myself. However I think there is greater pleasure in searching through primary/original records and actually being able to trace our ancestry for what it is, not what we might like it to be.
It is difficult to search for records of Scot history or genealogy when one lives thousands of miles (even more kilometres) away from Scotland. Add that to the controversies related to historical power struggles between monarchies and their ability to destroy historical records not to their liking, and it makes it difficult to say conclusively what events occurred or did not. This is particularly the case if you have monarchies still intact attempting to rewrite history to match their objectives. The current Saxe-Coburg/Windsor monarchy in London, under Elizabeth, has had the decency to admit that Shakespeare's writings were not accurate history. What might be relevant still is the historic and possibly continuing differences between the Guelph and Ghibeline monarchic lines. It is for these reasons and possibly others that this topic should involve various unbiased parties living in Scotland in order to arrive at a semblance of truth.

As for inferences about me personally, none of my information comes from my parents.  All of it comes from genealogies (secondary sources), some of which include reference to historical documents, and memory of a family tree compiled by my aunt, a genealogist in the 1960s and earlier, and a well-read school teacher for decades.  As for 'conspiracy theories', that is a common term used in arguments to attempt to discredit the view of those with whom one disagrees, as well as to conceal errors or misdeeds, and so has become virtually meaningless rhetoric.  I'm not convinced that any unrelated person in this discussion has done any serious investigation in depth, and so would deflect to those in Scotland with direct access to historical records located there, noting that that Albert Finley France claimed to have received information from such sources, some quoted by RADM Herald Stout (married to Finley).

As for inferences about Finley family history, I do note that a history by Dr John Huston Finley did trigger a negative review in the polarizing times of World War 2, when Dr Finley was involved in the controversial Palestine settlement issues.

As for RADM Herald Stout, he also found himself embroiled in World War 2 controversies since he was the commander of a ship that delivered a decisive blow to the Axis Powers during the Battle of Bougainville, which was key in protecting Australia from invasion by the Imperial Japanese Navy.  Stout was an Allied war hero decorated with the Navy Cross by US President Roosevelt and so may have attracted the displeasure of WW2 Axis Powers military and intelligence services, some of which lingered after 1945 and may still linger today, as some participants in this discussion group might know, and certainly should know  Thus, how much critique of Stout and Clan Finley was based on objectivity about genealogy, and how much was based on political blackballing or smear tactics?  Also note that at least two 20th-century Finleys were actively involved in investigative journalism that touched on politically controversial topics that incurred disfavor from interested parties. This led to labels from critics and coverups as 'conspiracy theory' in attempt to silence discussion of matters of critical social importance. This might affect blanket judgments on Finley genealogy.  Here, I am only seeking the facts. "Nothing found yet" is not a conclusive answer, especially where data may have been concealed or altered or even destroyed.

I don't think the original question is going to be answered until there is a team of objective research analysts in Scotland in the picture.  Meanwhile, I will present specifically what both the France and Stout genealogies claimed to have received from Scotland, and then those with the resources in Scotland can look for eviidence.  Meanwhile, blanket rejection of Stout's Clan Finley as illegitimate, because of some errors found, is logically out of order.
Blake, if you know someone in Scotland willing to do the documentary research to reasonably prove Macbeth had a son of his own body, then go for it. However, until there is this kind of proof, i have a feeling that Macbeth's profile here on WikiTree will probably remain as it is with no children.
The revised comments on the British Royal Family website may add some clarification:

8 Answers

+15 votes
Best answer
There is nothing about a son of MacBeth in the Medieval Lands Database either.  I'm putting a cautionary note on the respective profiles and will be happy to disconnect McFinley unless there are objections.
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (474k points)
selected by Pip Sheppard
Thanks Jack

I've been aware for some time that that genealogy of the Finley/Finlay for many generations it a major problem, and that the sources listed are at best misguided, and definitely unsourced but unfortunately haven't had the time to do much about it.

I would say unlink the profile from MacBeth and we can go from there.
OK- yes, major objection! Man- I don't know where to start here! OK- list of Scottish Kings- Scotchicronicon. List of 113 Kings including those in Ireland: Labor Gabala Erren. Also the List of Milesian Kings for Pictish Kings and Queens. The idea that Lulach inherited obviously because Macbeth didn't have an heir- total inaccuracy! They practiced Tanistry and depending on the time period other methods of succession. The line extends back to Royal Scythia, and even before that. So I guess someone is going to have to get the B.C. or B.C.E. certification around here! Hahaha. Oh, the idea that all the kings were so many they were minor or that they ruled so briefly or incoherently that they aren't real Kings and Sovereigns is a Hannover-ian plot of propaganda for the Union of the Crowns. Is there anything I missed? I know, I need to write a book. So check out: Maj. Albert Finley France's work from 1942. Or how about Woodson-Stout's work on the Ancient Finley Name through Finley Findings International. Or you can just wait for me to add those notes on here in preparation for my novella. I don't know. There's also Burke's Peerage and I recently learned of the old Scottish Peerage pre 1703. It is a more extensive and older tree than almost any in the British Isles and is very different than Queen Elizabeth II. Mainly because she doesn't have the Pictish ancestors who Matriarchal featured. So, yes Lulach inherited, but was then followed by the child of MacBeothed and his wife Gruoch. I'll have to look that part up to be sure, but I believe it is Duncan, Gruoch's stepson by MacBeth's brother. He died, his brother married his wife, adopted the son and heir. I have to double check that though. I hope this helps. :D Welcome to the weirdest family tree in the world. Want to be related to Noah as well as MacBeth? Congratulations! :D
Alright- I'm trying here. Shakespear is thought to be related to the family (De Vere or Sidney or St. Clair). He was financed by four cousins. It was a shameless cash grab and you definitely don't want to mention the branch of the family they just exiled and took all their stuff. Voila! Instant Dane and his crazy wife and dysfunctional castle. The first portfolio funded by cousins.

Also the idea that Gruoch or other women of the family must be made up because no one cared about women in the past. Totally untrue- I don't know why anyone thinks this, but it is in error. Women shared roles as leaders and warrior and their names are recorded even in 1050 AD, that's a lot of documents actually, lists of names, including the women and their professions. These were orally recited before they were written by monk scribes.

In terms of ancient ancestors there is so much detail it would be absurd to just invent everything. Maybe some things just haven't been updated for the modern era. I feel like I'm justifying my interest in this here. I think that's wrong.

Blake, the original intent of my post was to question whether Macbeth had a legitimate son as was presented on WikiTree at the time. It was NOT to disparage either Macbeth or the Finleys. All of that commentary does not pertain to the original post, even though I, for one, believe he had a rather successful reign. There was no political motivation to the original post.

Did Macbeth have a legitimate son that was the progenitor of the Finleys? If so, then present you evidence and let's discuss it.

Blake, the ultimate question in genealogy is "how do we know what we say is true?"  For recent people, that's relatively easy, we have census records, birth and marriage certificates, etc.  For people who lived long ago it's of course tougher.  The authors you cite wrote relatively recently, so then the question becomes, "how do they know?"  And when there's controversy we have to dig down to their own sources.

In this case, there is already a profile for  Macbeatha McFinley, but the profile is weakly sourced.  That means his profile could stand a lot more work.  What are the oldest records testifying to his existence?  When does his name first appear in the literature?  In addition to a section of his profile called ==Biography== there is place for a section called ==Research Notes==.  Who are the major writers about him and why are they considered major?  What sources do they use?  And always, what are the earliest sources, and why are they considered reliable -- or not?

+6 votes
Apparently in Andrew of Wyntoun's original version of the 3 Witches tale, it was prophesied that Macbeth would be Thane of Cromarty.

Boethius retold the story, but changed the names of the thanedoms to something less obviously bogus.

Then the internet processes get to work and the end result is, two Macbeth mac Finlays, so one of them can actually be the Thane of Cromarty.
by Living Horace G2G6 Pilot (647k points)

It wasn't internet processes.  There were two Macbeth McFinleys a long time ago

For the record, the detached "son" was McFinley-5 if anybody's looking for him.


+6 votes
In the absence of sources one is free to use imagination, but as a novelist.  Read "King Hereafter" by Dorothy Dunnett.  She was both a better historian and genealogist than many who make the claim.
by Christine Henderson G2G6 Mach 1 (13.5k points)
Thanks for the book recommendation, Christine. In my basket on Amazon. Are you getting me hooked on another author?
Dorothy Dunnett is definitely worth getting hooked on
I’m blaming Christine and Janet for causing to spend more money at Amazon.

Beyond that, I’m eminently satisfied with the answers to my question. Thanks, all!
"This Shorter History of Scotland comprises Part I of the History of Scotland for Schools and Part II as far as the Union of the Crowns" reads the preface to A Shorter History of Scotland by Prof. P Hume Brown. LLD. The book was published in Edinburgh around 1915, The book does mention MacBeth as "king of Scotland, although not the whole of it.  The larger "Short History of Scotland, published by the same author in 1908, is larger and more descriptive of MacBeth, and the copy I have has a faceplate of a public school near Paisley UK, and makes reference to MacBeth as "generous to the Church", "made a pilgrimage to Rome", that MacBeth was attacked by a joint Scot-English military alliance at which time he killed Malcolm under threat of his own possible death otherwise.  Hume also compares a summary of what Shakespeare wrote for his stageplay versus what Hume, as historian with a doctor or letters degree uncovered during his research, recognized by the University of Edinburgh, and apparently royal agencies in London, as authoritative.  You can probably find copies of these books in a local library or through a library-loan program. Then there will be the bibliography given by Stout, all of which I have not yet had time to go through.  Maybe others here have it.  There is no mention of witches or witchcraft in either of these books, by the way, but it made for suspense in Shakespeare's history-for-entertainment.  Which I notice was recently used as kindle for yet another movie based largely on fabrications which I hope no will deem factual.  It's all interestingly timed some other recent attacks on the Finley name on the internet, including by a couple of imported nationalist-affiliated networks from neither Europe nor North America. What may be of relevance is that the Finley family were among the some of the more high-profile pioneers of California Statehood now deemed as obstacles to control by an ambitious new alliance from afar seeking to become a new ruling class that also appears to be generating various smears against historically prominent Finleys,  So, if you are indeed a Finley, take note and defend the honor of your family once again against critics with motives that may be other than constructive.  I can give 2 recent examples to those Finleys interested.
+5 votes
by Living Finley G2G6 (8.7k points)
edited by Living Finley
+5 votes
Finley family genealogist US Navy Admiral Herald F Stout refers, in both editions of "Clan Finley", to US Navy Captain Albert Finley France as a top authority on Finley genealogy.  In Stout's "Clan Finley", 2d edition 1956-61 he claimed that his account there of Finley genealogy up to Fearchar McFinlay is confirmed in " Manuscript Pedigrees" at the Society of Genealogy in London. In between MacBeth and Fearchar, Stout indicates "MacBeatha McFinlay, a younger son of MacBeth, was from 1060-1093 Thane of Cromarty, married Bethoca, daughter of Andrew McBrad (McBride).

A F France wrote, MacBeth's (death in 1056) "was calamitous to his family, his clan name ceased and for a time the Farquharson took its place... the clan Fionnloah placed his stepson Lulach on the throne, but he reigned only four months.... For 150 years all the branches of the House of Finlay and all the sprouts of the genealogical tree appear to have been used as firewood by the time the trunk was kept alive."

All the history and data after MacBeth's fall as the Finleys were toppled from power and made "personae non grata/e" in Scotland, to that point that some felt they had to change their last name, and some returned to Ireland, where the family is supposed to have come from originally (per France and Stout).

Elsewhere, direct Finley-descendant France gives the account he was given of the actual history of the defeated MacBeth, slandered by victorious opponents and furthermore by Shakespeare's politically-tinged play-for-entertainment fiction/drama, little more, per various historians and literary analysts. Shakespeare wrote fiction, was not a historian, and many have agreed with this view over time.
by Living Finley G2G6 (8.7k points)
edited by Living Finley
+4 votes
by Living Finley G2G6 (8.7k points)
edited by Living Finley
Hi Blake, for confirmation of anything pre-1500 we need to be looking at primary/original sources, or at least secondary sources that cite primary sources.

No primary sources confirm that MacBeth had any children, so MacBeatha, who I've usually seen in secondary sources as a female, is certainly an invention.

I did some research into what Finley/Finlay genealogies I could access a few years ago and found none of them cited any sources and they had glaring errors, such as a Catholic Bishop in Scotland who was married with children, which appeared to be copied from one source to another without anyone actually undertaking some quality research.

A church of Rome married priest, or even bishop, was not unusual back in the day, so don't use that on its own as any criterion - or call it a "glaring error".  The injunction against clerics marrying wasn't exactly upheld, even after it was issued.  The Council of Trent (1500s) laid down the law even more explicitly. Clerics were still marrying and having children, even up to the Borgias and beyond.  This type of celibacy became a formal part of Canon Law in 1917.

TLDR: priest and bishops could be married and have children in the time of MacBeth, so don't discount a source as invalid just because  it mentions such.

EXTRA: scrutinise your sources.

I did find this link again but it apparently is overloaded at the moment.... included a list of thanes when I went there several months ago.  In the past I sent an inquiry about the Macbeatha claim and have yet to hear a response.

Based on what I have read, the entire MacBeth-Finley link claim was historically embroiled in claims to thrones, and would add that Univ of Edinburgh Prof. P Hume Brown, Historiographer-Royal did indeed refer to MacBeth as a "King of Scotland", as have other historians and scholars.

Whatever the Finley link be, it has long been publicized, and it may be wise for all Finley descendants to read Professor Brown's explanation of who MacBeth actually was, as well as critics of Shakespeare's deliberately misleading theatrics, which I find difficult as a Finley descendant to be happy about.  I plan to do more research on the topic.  Also in reference to Lulach, if I remember correctly, he was the son of MacBeth's wife from a previous marriage, and while some claim MacBeth acquired the throne only via marriage, others claim he was descended from a previous royal family.

The entire mess was also tied up in the issue of Celtic or Pictish rule over Scotland versus its changeover to English rule and some ongoing debates over this that lasted a few centuries and then died in the dustbin of history.

What is not, however, dustbin, despite all the politics, is who the forebearers of the Finley line were, for their blood lives on through those of us descended from the line.  And if MacBeth was in fact one of them, then one must know that he was not the evil character that Shakespeare, in his  mercenary mode, portrayed.  The Finleys are not Evil, much as their detractors and jealous political rivals might claim.

What may be needed is a new historical documentary based on what has been recorded of MacBeth's actual life, to counter the Shakespearean nonsense.  If any Finley has the resources to do so, I am making the suggestion here and now.  And it may be useful to accompany it with a critique of Shakespeare's malefic characterization.
Who is cutting and pasting, reposting edited versions of deleted messages written by other members as 'anonymous' in turn linked to IP addresses?  Is that legal?
As Melanie Paul said, the new disciplinary rule on clerical celibacy was not always followed in medieval Scotland -- it took a while for the new discipline to catch on. Another consideration is that some bishops and abbots and other clerics were married and had children when they were laymen, and weren't ordained until later in life. Several Scottish clan names and traditional clan genealogies trace back to medieval Catholic clerics, usually abbots (or lay abbots, who were permitted to marry even after the new celibacy discipline was introduced) -- cf. Macnab, son of the abbot, sometimes priests or parsons -- cf. Macpherson, son of the parson, and Mactaggart, son of the priest (a.k.a. Clan Ainnrias, the old Earls of Ross), sometimes lectors -- cf. Clan Chattan, whose ancestor Gillechattan was grandson of Diarmait the Lector.  (Lector was one of the minor orders, and men in minor orders always could marry -- under the new celibacy rule, only priests and bishops had to be unmarried.) Given the history of Catholic Christianity in Scotland, it would be surprising if Clan Finlay didn't also have a priest, abbot, or bishop somewhere back in its genealogy.
+4 votes
Herald Stout, author of the 2nd revised and corrected 1956 edition of Clan Finley, was a US Naval Academy graduate and recipient of the Navy Cross for valor, awarded by US President Roosevelt.

Albert Finley France, author of the earlier House of Finley papers, was also a US Naval Academy graduate and the 3rd great grandson of Rev James Michael Finley, who was a member of Benjamin Franklin's Committee of Safety, and owned the home where the first draft of the US Constitution was signed.

If they made a mistake in their genealogies, it was probably an honest one.  Stout does quote sources, but it would take someone in Scotland to verify them with documentation, assuming it has not been destroyed, since leading Finleys became personae non gratae in Britain after they were toppled from their leading positions.  The question is if that same banishment continued through the 10 centuries since then?

Whatever the case, yes, documentation is needed, and absent first-hand records, published records of historical events should be at very least valued as credible clues.
by Living Finley G2G6 (8.7k points)
edited by Living Finley
+11 votes
Hi everyone

Thanks for your interest in the MacBeth of Scotland profile.  We are happy to discuss changes to the profile with anyone who is able to provide solid evidence of a child, as the WikiTree Honour Code requires we document with reliable sources.  At the present time, we are unaware of the existence of such sources for a child.  What scholarly, peer-reviewed sources can be found to support the relationship?  With the revitalization of the Scotland Project, the profile will be undergoing a review and edited to meet the Scotland Project's profile standards.

~ Scotland Leadership Team
by Amy Gilpin G2G6 Pilot (219k points)
Information on British Royal Family website has been updated and may or may not clarify:

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