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Clan MacCallum History

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Surname/tag: MacCallum, Malcolm
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The names MacCallum and Malcolm have a common origin and derive from Gaelic terms that mean follower of Columba, a 6th Century Celtic Saint who founded the religious community at Iona and is credited with bringing Christianity to Scotland. Mac means ‘son of’ so MacCallum can mean follower of Columba. Maol Chaluim is the name that became Malcolm. Maol generally means bald but was applied to Irish ecclesiastics referring to a tonsured man who was the follower of a Saint, thus Malcolm means servant or devotee of Columba.

Ian Grimble, in his book Scottish Clans & Tartans, said that the MacCallums originated in the ancient kingdom of Dál Riada on Great Britain, which was the first Scottish area settled by people from Ireland. He also said, “[T]he Campbells had moved into the district of Lorne in Argyll...for so long settled by MacCallums.”

The earliest written reference to MacCallum dates to 1414 when Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochow granted lands in Craignish on the banks of Loch Avich to Ranald (or Reginald) MacCallum of Corbarron along with the hereditary office of Constable of the Castles of Lochaffy and Craignish. A 1562 charter issued by Duncan Campbell of Duntrune gave legal title of Poltalloch to Domhnal mac Gilleasbuig Mhic Ui Chaluim (Donald, son of Gillespic, descendant of Callum). Donald became the first laird of Poltalloch. Donald was succeeded by his son Duncan. Duncan appears to have been the first to adopt the surname MacCallum. Duncan was followed by Donald, who died without issue. Duncan’s nephew Rev. Archibald, who received a Master of Arts from the University of Glasgow in 1627 followed Donald.

In 1667, Zacharie, 5th (laird) of Poltalloch, was granted a hereditary charter by Archibald, 9th Earl of Argyll. Zacharie was a noted swordsman.

It was in the timeframe of the late 18th–early 19th century that the clan chief, either Alexander, 9th of Poltalloch or Dugald, 10th of Poltalloch, changed the family name to Malcolm. One possible reason for the name change is that with the tensions between Scotland and England at the time, it was easier to do business in England if a name didn’t sound too Scottish.

The Malcolms purchased Duntrune (Duntroon) castle, the current home of the clan chief, from a Campbell in 1792. Duntrune was repaired and restored in the early 19th century. Between 1849 and 1853, Neill Malcolm, 13th of Poltalloch, built Poltalloch House near Kilmartin. It was a two story Jacobean-style manor house built around a central courtyard and designed by William Burn. It was deserted in 1957 after the family moved to Duntrune Castle.

John Wingfield Malcolm, 15th of Poltalloch, was created Lord Malcolm of Poltalloch in 1896 by Queen Victoria, having distinguished himself as MP (Member of Parliament) for Argyll. He died without heirs and the title became extinct. John was succeeded by his brother Edward. Edward’s son Ian Malcolm, KCMG (Knight of the Order of St. Michael and St. George), was one of the Directors of the Suez Canal Company. Ian’s son, Lt. Col. George Ian Malcolm, was a founder and first director of the now famous Edinburgh Tattoo in 1946.

George Ian Malcolm’s son, Robin Neill Malcolm, 19th of Poltalloch is our current clan chief. Robin has been repeatedly elected to local office. He and his family reside in Duntrune Castle.

© Copyright 2020 Clan MacCallum/Malcolm Soceity of North America, Inc. and reprinted with permission





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