Somerled’s genealogy?

+4 votes
Looking over the genealogy over Somerled, but here and on Wikipedia, I have three questions (I know I shouldn't do this, three questions in one, but I felt compelled not to clog up G2G with three separate “asks”.):

1) With the variety of genealogies presented by Wikipedia, what was the determining factor of Somerled’s genealogy as presented on Wikitree?

2) What is the difference between “King of the Isles “ and “King of the Hebrides” on Somerled’s profile.

3) Why does Macgillebride show up twice in his name on the profile?

Thanks for indulging me. Please don’t start throwing stuff at me! :-)
WikiTree profile: Somerled MacGillebride
in The Tree House by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.5m points)
Generally, Celtic genealogy comes in as many versions as there are sources, plus as many as you can make up trying to reconcile the sources.

Same with Vikings, old Wessex, etc.  It's all much easier when there's only one source.

Somebody writes a wrong genealogy.  Somebody else tries to fix it by guesswork.  Somebody else tries to reconcile the discrepancy by guesswork etc.  Nobody has any actual evidence, so the process wanders off in any direction.  Sometimes whole new people get invented.

You still see this where somebody made up a fictitious ancestry for a colonist and now people are trying to rescue it.

3 Answers

+5 votes
The Isles includes The Hebrides, The Isle of Man and a handful of other islands of the West coast of Scotland. A lot of folks on the other side of the Atlantic get confused and use the term wrongly when they are referring to the British Isles.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (634k points)
+4 votes

Hi Pip, thanks for the question.

Some of what you discuss is covered under the Kingdom of the Isles.  Wikitree has, unfortunately become a little imprecise which I will look to resolve in the coming days.  

The title: Mor, Ri Innse Gall, King of the Hebrides, King of the Isles consists of some duplication and an error.  "Mor" or more correctly mór is Gaelic for large and not in the title.  Ri (or Righ) is Gaelic for King or Lord, Innse Gal is Gaelic for Island of the foreigners (Vikings) and refers to the Hebrides. King of the Hebrides is the same, but he actually only held part of the Hebrides, and King of the Isles refers to the Norwegain Kingdom of the Isles (which includes much of the west coast of Scotland) which was independent of Scotland and held to the Norwegian Crown during the period in question.  This Kingdom varied in size during the period and, by the time of Somerled, had been divided into two, with Somerled, late in life, holding the southern isles.  He was also Lord of Argyll, a title he held to the Scottish Crown.

The last question; not sure and likely needs to change.  In the Irish Annals (thus in Irish Gaelic) he appears as Somhairlidh mac Gillebride mhic Gilledomnán.

I can resolve the profile..


by Doug Straiton G2G6 Mach 2 (21.1k points)
Can Seamus Macrory be married to his aunt? Or am I misreading this?

The answer to Question 3 is just that WikiTree is case-sensitive, in some contexts, so it thinks Fitzjohn and FitzJohn are different names.
And was Seamus's wife/aunt the same person as his mother?  And who was Rory?
+2 votes
The current best take on Somerled's genealogy is given by DNA. NOTE: this is the best determined medieval line, by DNA, in the world, from John, first Lord of the Isles, to the present. Also note that I am co-admin of the Clan Donald DNA Project so am biased. We have numerous very good to perfect genealogies leading back to Somerled, with Y-DNA. See


plus numerous other lines with DNA but whose genealogies are only "pretty good", i.e. much better than average Wikitree good but not not fully documented at every step.  These go back to one or two generations before Somerled, through MacEacharns who are supposed to branch off just before Somered. Somerled himself is reasonably securely placed by history and DNA, but it gets very very iffy very soon before him. Even his grandfather is very iffy.

Note the DNA to Lord John is absolute: we have markers he bore that are even better than SNPs, that three of his sons bore. A 4th son probably did too, the DNA is fine but the paper is rather iffy.

Related questions

+5 votes
1 answer
150 views asked Oct 30, 2022 in The Tree House by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.5m points)
+4 votes
1 answer
174 views asked Sep 1, 2020 in Genealogy Help by Thom Anderson G2G6 Mach 6 (65.6k points)
+2 votes
1 answer
205 views asked May 23, 2018 in Genealogy Help by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (755k points)
+36 votes
8 answers

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright