Macbeth (Scotland) of Scotland

Macbeth (Scotland) of Scotland (abt. 1005 - 1057)

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Macbeth "Macbeathadh" of Scotland formerly Scotland
Born about in Moray, Scotlandmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married [location unknown]
Died in Lumphannan, Aberdeenshire, Scotlandmap
Profile last modified | Created 7 May 2011
This page has been accessed 4,389 times.

Categories: Significant and Famous Scots | Clan MacBean | Shakespearean Characters | Legendary Scottish Stewart Ancestry | House of Moray.

Preceded by
Duncan I
King of Scots
14 August 1040 - 15 August 1057
Succeeded by
Lulach I




Some other names: Macbeth, Mac Bethad mac Findlaích, Rí Deircc, "the Red King", Mormaer of Moray, King of Scots [1]

Gaelic MacBeathadh means "son of life" [2]

Macheth filius Findleg: Latin version of his name found in the 12th century Cronica Regum Scottorum which lists him as king.[3]

1005 Birth

He was born about 1005 [3]


Moray, in northern Scotland, was an independent kingdom, ruled by its own royal house, distant kin to the MacAlpin. Ruadri, Mormaer of Moray, had three sons; Findlaech, who married Donada, the daughter of Malcolm the Second and became the father of MacBeth; Maelbrigte and Donald. Maelbrigte had two sons, Malcolm and Gillacomgain. Gillecomgain married Gruoch, the granddaughter of Kenneth the Third. Maelbrigte's sons murdered Findlaech. Malcolm ruled Moray from 1020 to 1029 and was succeeded by his brother Gillecomgain who ruled until 1032, when MacBeth caught up with him. [1]

MacBeth traces a royal bloodline as a member of one of three kindreds of Dalriada. [2]

MacBeth was Thane of Ross by heredity and Thane of Moray after marriage. [2]

Macbeth was son of Findlaech MacRory Mormaer of Moray & his [second wife] [Donada of Scotland] [3]

1032 Marriage

Macbeth married, after 1032, as her second husband, Gruoch, [widow of Gillacomgain Mormaer of Moray,] daughter of Boite [Bodhe] of Scotland & his wife --- ([1015]-). [3]She was the widow of Gillacomgain. She was herself, royally connected, being granddaughter of King Kenneth of Scotland. [2]

"Machbet filius Finlach…et Gruoch filia Bodhe, rex et regina Scottorum" made grants to the church of St Serf, although the document also names "Malcolmus Rex filius Duncani" which casts doubt on its authenticity. Her possible first marriage appears to be based on the following logic. The Continuation of the Synchronisms of Flann Mainistreach records Lulach as son of Macbeth[202]. The Annals of Ulster record that "Lulach son of Gilla Comgain, over-king of Scotland was killed in battle by Mael Coluim son of Donnchad" in 1058[203]. Dunbar, basing his argument on this and the other sources which are quoted in this section, states that "from the above it seems most probable that Lulach was son of Gillacomgan and step-son of Macbeth". In addition, the 12th century Cronica Regum Scottorum lists "Lulac nepos filii Boide" ["nephew of the son of Boite"] as successor of King Macbeth[205]. However, there does not appear to be a surviving source which more specifically confirms that Macbeth’s queen was the widow of Gillacomgain and mother of Lulach. [3]

1031 Submission to Canute

MacBeth may have been one of the "two other kings, Mælbeth and Iehmarc" recorded by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has having submitted to Canute King of England in 1031 with King Malcolm II. [3]

1040 Accession

Malcolm the Second, king of Scotland, died in 1034 and his grandson succeeded him as Duncan the First. Duncan wasn't a good king, being a bit wishy-washy and not much of a soldier. Scotland sank into chaos, rebellion rampant. The sons of Canute the Great, ruling in Denmark and England were pleased, for Scotland was a prize to be won. It fell to MacBeth to champion Scotland's defence. Duncan, alarmed at MacBeth's growing strength and great popularity, led an army into Moray, in August of 1040. He should have stayed at home. Dead at Pitgaveny. MacBeth made himself king of Scotland.[1]

He was duly elected king after meeting King Duncan in battle, where Duncan was killed. [2]

The Chronicle of John of Fordun records that "Machabeus son of Finele" killed King Duncan and succeeded as king in 1040. [3]

He succeeded in 1040 as MacBeth King of Scotland. The Chronicon of Marianus Scottus records that "Donnchal rex Scotiæ" was killed "1040 XIX Kal Sep" by "duce suo Macbethad mac Finnloech" who succeeded as king for 17 years. [3]

1042 Death of Gillacomgain

In 1042 he burned to death Gillacomgain, one of his father's murderers, and 50 of his men. [2]


Duncan's father, Crinan of Dunkeld,objected as he had grandsons whose claims to the throne he needed to protect. Crinan was killed in battle against MacBeth in 1045. For more than a decade, MacBeth ruled unchallenged by his kin, giving him opportunity to concentrate on the Norsemen.[1]

The Prophecy of Berchan calls MacBeth "the generous king" and "the furious red one." Scotland began to prosper under his wise rule.[1]

Understandably, partisans of Malcolm III were interested in deposing MacBeth. [2]

1046 English Invasion

The Annales Dunelmenses record that "comes Siward" invaded Scotland with a large army in 1046 and briefly expelled "rege Macbeod", the king recovering his realm when Siward withdrew. [3]

1050 Rome

Florence of Worcester records that "Rex Scottiæ Macbethad" distributed silver in Rome ("Romæ argentum spargendo distribuit"), dated to 1050 by the editor of the edition consulted. [3]

1054 English Invasion

Siward, the Earl of Northumberland, at the behest of Edward the Confessor, led an army into Scotland in 1054. After a furious battle, many Scots and Saxons lay slain, although MacBeth escaped. Malcolm III was eventually slain in 1093 by MacDuff, Thane of Fife, for the cruelties inflicted on his family. [2]

1057 Death

Cawley notes that "the dating of the various reports of King Macbeth’s defeat and death is inconsistent." and gives numerous citations for MacBeth's death in both the battles of 1054 and 1057.[3] Cawley firms the 1057 date: "He was killed in battle at Lumphanan, Aberdeenshire 15 Aug 1057, and buried on the Isle of Iona. [3] The Chronicle of John of Fordun records that "Machabeus" was buried "in the Island of Iona". [3]

In 1057, Duncan's son Malcolm, allied with Siward of Northumbria and Harold the Second of England, led a huge army northward. MacBeth had great support in Scotland. In one of the grandest battles in Scottish history, MacBeth and the many sons of Scotland's true nobility died, on August 15 at Lumphanan.[1]

MacBeth died in battle at Lumphanen, Aberdeenshire in August 1057.[2]

Macbeth was buried at the Isle of Iona, Scotland, traditional burial ground of Scottish Kings. [2]


There is no record of any children of MacBeth. Lulach, son of Gruoch by her first marriage, appears as a stepson.

Specifically, there is no credible record of MacBeth having a son Macbeatha McFinley.

Research Notes

Shakespeare's MacBeth and History

Shakespeare's play is widely seen to celebrate King James' ancestors and the Stuart accession to the throne in 1603 (James believed himself to be descended from Banquo), most scholars believe that the play is unlikely to have been composed earlier than 1603 and suggest that the parade of eight kings—which the witches show Macbeth in a vision in Act IV—is a compliment to King James. [4]

William Shakespeare's play "The Tragedy of Macbeth" is thought to have been first performed in 1606. It was first published in the Folio of 1623, possibly from a prompt book. [4]

The historical basis for the play Macbeth is Holinshed's Chronicles, a history of England, Scotland, and Ireland published in 1587. [4]

A principal source comes from the Daemonologie of King James published in 1597 which included a news pamphlet titled Newes from Scotland that detailed the famous North Berwick Witch Trials of 1590. The publication of Daemonologie came just a few years before the tragedy of Macbeth with the themes and setting in a direct and comparative contrast with King James' personal experiences with witchcraft. Not only had this trial taken place in Scotland, the witches involved were recorded to have also conducted rituals with the same mannerisms as the three witches. [4]

Shakespeare borrowed the story from several tales in Holinshed's Chronicles, a popular history of the British Isles well known to Shakespeare and his contemporaries. In Chronicles, a man named Donwald finds several of his family put to death by his king, King Duff, for dealing with witches. After being pressured by his wife, he and four of his servants kill the King in his own house. In Chronicles, Macbeth is portrayed as struggling to support the kingdom in the face of King Duncan's ineptitude. He and Banquo meet the three witches, who make exactly the same prophecies as in Shakespeare's version. Macbeth and Banquo then together plot the murder of Duncan, at Lady Macbeth's urging. Macbeth has a long, ten-year reign before eventually being overthrown by Macduff and Malcolm. The parallels between the two versions are clear. However, some scholars think that George Buchanan's Rerum Scoticarum Historia matches Shakespeare's version more closely. Buchanan's work was available in Latin in Shakespeare's day.[9][4]

No other version of the story has Macbeth kill the king in Macbeth's own castle. Scholars have seen this change of Shakespeare's as adding to the darkness of Macbeth's crime as the worst violation of hospitality. Versions of the story that were common at the time had Duncan being killed in an ambush at Inverness, not in a castle. Shakespeare conflated the story of Donwald and King Duff in what was a significant change to the story.[4]

Shakespeare made another important change. In Chronicles, Banquo is an accomplice in Macbeth's murder of King Duncan, and plays an important part in ensuring that Macbeth, not Malcolm, takes the throne in the coup that follows. [4]

Some features found in the play are known to be non-historical now, but were believed to be historical at the time.

In Shakespeare's play,

  • A brave Scottish general named Macbeth receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. [4]
  • Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan and takes the Scottish throne for himself. [4]
  • He is then wracked with guilt and paranoia. Forced to commit more and more murders to protect himself from enmity and suspicion, he soon becomes a tyrannical ruler. [4]
  • The bloodbath and consequent civil war swiftly take Macbeth and Lady Macbeth into the realms of madness and death.[4]

Banquo and Fleance

Banquo (Macbeth's friend and a general in the army of King Duncan) and his son Fleance are two characters in the play who were believed to be historical at the time, but no longer are.

In Shakespeare's day, Banquo was thought to be an ancestor of the Stuart King James I. (In the 19th century it was established that Banquo is an unhistorical character, the Stuarts are actually descended from a Breton family which migrated to Scotland slightly later than Macbeth's time.) [4]

The Banquo portrayed in earlier sources is significantly different from the Banquo created by Shakespeare. Critics have proposed several reasons for this change. First, to portray the king's ancestor as a murderer would have been risky. Other authors of the time who wrote about Banquo, such as Jean de Schelandre in his Stuartide, also changed history by portraying Banquo as a noble man, not a murderer, probably for the same reasons. [4]

Second, Shakespeare may have altered Banquo's character simply because there was no dramatic need for another accomplice to the murder; there was, however, a need to give a dramatic contrast to Macbeth—a role which many scholars argue is filled by Banquo.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Written for wikitree by Catherine Evans
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 The material for this bio, has been gathered from several sources, and is common historical knowledge.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 Charles Cawley. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy. Medieval Lands Database. Scotland MacBeth Accessed December 30, 2017 jhd
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 Wikipedia Shakespeare's MacBeth Accessed December 30,2017 jhd


Many people have contributed to this profile by adding gedcoms, merging and adding data. Thank you to all. some contributors are Chet Spencer, Catherine Evans, Sir William Arbuthnot, Thursday, January 9, 2014 Duris Holmes, Katherine Patterson, Jim Walker.

See the Changes page for the details of edits by Chet and others.

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On 4 Jun 2018 at 00:34 GMT Pip Sheppard wrote:

“Stolen” would be a strong word to use retroactively to a time when these kinds of things happened all the time. Duncan apparently was not a popular king late is his reign, so Macbeth might have had backing to take the throne. See Peter Beresford Ellis’ bio of Macbeth for a discussions this issue.

On 8 Mar 2018 at 17:51 GMT Gregory Lauder-Frost FSA Scot wrote:

Quite a very large amount of fantasy and faction here. For instance, "Siward, the Earl of Northumberland, at the behest of Edward the Confessor" invaded Scotland. No, at the behest of Malcolm Canmore to recover his throne, stolen by MacBeth. Also Siward's army was a mixture including Norman mercenaries.

Moray was not an independent kingdom. And Mormaers and Thanes were the equivalent of Earls.

On 8 Mar 2018 at 00:55 GMT Emma (McBeth) MacBeath M.Ed MSM wrote:

I am wondering why MacBeth's last name is listed as Scotland? He is the son of Findlèch which would make his name some spelling version of Mac Bethad mac Findlaích just as his son is similar named.

On 22 Apr 2014 at 10:35 GMT Maria Maxwell wrote:

McFinley-5 and Scotland-163 do not represent the same person because: McFinley-5 seems to be the son of Scotland-163

On 19 Apr 2014 at 16:22 GMT Sir William (Arbuthnot) Arbuthnot of Kittybrewster Bt wrote:

It would be great if somebody were to do a succession box for these cousins as the throne passed between them

Macbeth is 36 degrees from Rosa Parks, 33 degrees from Anne Tichborne and 25 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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