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Clan McGregor

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Alpin’s third son, Gregor, founded a family line that was to become the Clan Gregor, descendants of which would be known by the family name MacGregor. As time passed and the kings of Scotland established their supremacy over the clans, a number of clans used the kings’ need for loyal clan leaders to increase their own power and holdings. The MacGregors were not among these, but were instead neighbors of other clans that were. Over time the MacGregors’ own lands were gradually lost to other clans, most notably the Campbells - whose expansions in Argyll and into Breadalbane put the MacGregors at a great disadvantage. The Campbells also obtained control of some MacGregor lands by marriage. The MacGregors held to the old clan custom of defending their name and possessions by the sword, and did not seek royal charters to their lands - charters they did not think the kings were empowered to give or withhold. Eventually they found themselves limited to small holdings at Loch Lomond, and in the glens of Orchy, Strae and Gyle. Finally, at the dawn of the 17th century, a band of MacGregors, refused customary Highland hospitality by the Colquhouns of Luss, whose land they were crossing, took refuge in a barn and slaughtered and ate a sheep they came upon. The next morning, despite offers to pay their hosts for the sheep, the MacGregors were arrested and summarily executed. In retaliation, MacGregors attacked and raided the Colquhoun holding, an act that, while justified under the code of Highland conduct, merely escalated matters. The Colquhouns paraded a number of clanswomen, falsely claiming them to be the widows of the Luss raid, before King James VI (who would later become King James I of England), each one mounted and carrying aloft a shirt supposed to have been worn by her fictitious slain husband (the shirts having been decorated with sheep’s blood for the purpose). The King, who couldn’t stand the sight of blood, believed the lies and readily granted the Col quhouns official permission to take revenge. The MacGregors slaughtered them again -- this time for real. The battle at Glenfruin resulted in the deaths of eighty Colquhoun men, with negligible losses among the MacGregors. To this day, the victory is remembered in Clan Gregor’s pipe music, "The Chase of Glenfruin." The King and his Privy Council thus issued in 1603 an Act of Proscription, denying anyone bearing the name MacGregor the protection of the law. The clan’s chief and a number of its leaders surrendered on condition they be given safe passage from Scotland, but as soon as they had crossed over into England they were treacherously turned about and taken to the Tolbooth in Edinburgh, where they were executed. Afterward, for more than 170 years it was literally against the law in Britain to be a MacGregor -- except for an interlude between 1661 and 1693. For this reason, Robert Roy MacGregor, the famed Highland outlaw, adopted the surname of his mother - Campbell - and thus was able to secure some measure of protection from the Campbell chief, the Duke of Argyll. Rob Roy’s ongoing feud with the Duke of Montrose (not Marquis, as given in the movie) ended in Rob’s favor, with Rob dying of old age at home. In the 1770s the proscription was lifted, but the clan’s lands, lost in the meantime, have not been restored. In 1959, Sir Gregor MacGregor, Baronet, became the clan’s present chief, and went on to achieve the Royal Army rank of brigadier (equivalent to brigadier general in the U.S. Army). As of 1997 he lives at Bannatyne, in the town of Newtyle, Angus, Scotland. Scotland, Virginia, and the McGehees: A Time line This time line contains no theories or opinions, only observations gleaned from factual research by a variety of sources. 1602, early winter: Luss, Scotland (beside Loch Lomond) Two MacGregors, traveling through the area as night falls, ask for food and shelter from a family of Colquhouns, who refuse -- an offense against Highland custom. Th e MacGregors take refuge in a hut and dine on a sheep they have caught in pasture, which is in keeping with Highland custom. The next morning, the MacGregors are arrested and executed for the theft of the sheep, their offers of repayment ignored. 1602, December 7: Rossdhu, Scotland (Colquhouns’ castle by Loch Lomond) A raiding party of eighty MacGregor men takes revenge on the Colquhouns, killing two men and taking hundreds of sheep, goats, horses and cattle into Argyll. 1603: Stirling, Scotland Several women are paraded before King James VI, bearing aloft bloody shirts allegedly worn by their husbands who supposedly were slain in the MacGregor raid (in fact, the shirts were stained with sheep’s blood). The King, unable to stand the sight of blood, grants the Colquhoun chief the right to take revenge on the MacGregors. 1603, February 7: Glenfruin, Scotland The MacGregor chief, Alasdair of Glenstrae -- heeding the advice of the Campbell chief, the Earl of Argyll (who though feuding with Colquhoun had no reason to wish the MacGregors well) -- leads his clan against the Colquhouns to avenge the bald deceit undertaken at Stirling. Although the Colquhouns had 800 men to the MacGregors’ 300, the battle was a rout in favor of the MacGregors. Eighty Colquhouns were killed, and yet another lifting of Colquhoun sheep, goats, horses and cattle ensued. 1603, March 24: England Queen Elizabeth I dies; her designated heir, Scotland’s King James VI, becomes England’s King James I. 1603, April 3: Scotland Responding to the King’s order to "extirpate Clan Gregor and to ruit oot their posteritie and name," the Privy Council proscribes the names Gregor and MacGregor and prohibits any MacGregor from carrying arms. 1603, April 5: Scotland King James VI departs Scotland for London to take the English throne. 1604, January 20: Edinburgh After having been treacherously taken prisoner by Argyll and delivered to Edinburgh, Alasdair of Glenstrae and five of his close kin are hanged at Mercat Cross. 1604, January: Scotland Clan Gregor, in a spontaneous rising, takes revenge on the Campbells -- laying waste to their holdings across the country, before dropping from sight and taking the names of other, neighboring clans. 1607, Virginia Colony Settlers establish a capital town on an island off the north bank of the James River, and name it for the King of England and Scotland: Jamestown. 1611: Scotland MacGregors are forbidden the sale of arms. 1612: Scotland James Graham, destined to be created the 1st Marquis of Montrose and to lead a Highland army (including MacGregors) for King Charles I in the Scottish Civil War, is born. 1613: Scotland MacGregors are forbidden to assemble in groups of five or more; they are also forbidden to cut their meat with pointed knives. 1621: Scotland The 1603 Proscription is extended to the new generation of MacGregors. 1625, March 25: England King James I dies, is succeeded by his son Charles I. 1627: Scotland The 1603 Proscription is further applied to the children of the generation proscribed in 1621. 1633: Scotland Members of the clergy are forbidden to christen any child with the name Gregor; also, "Letters of Fire and Sword," authorizing more reprisals, are issued in response to new MacGregor uprisings. 1642 Civil War erupts in England and, later, Scotland; King Charles I is opposed by the Parliamentarians in England and their allies the Covenanters in Scotland. 1644-45: Scotland Montrose’s campaign against the Covenanters in Scotland. Clan Gregor’s participation under their new chief, Patrick Roy of Glenstrae, leads Montrose to pledge (7 June 1645) in the name of King Charles that the MacGregors’ name and lands will be restored once Parliamentarian leader Oliver Cromwell and his allies are defeated. Three months later, Montrose is defeated and captured. After his execution, his head is displayed at the Tolbooth in Edinburgh. 1649, January 30: London King Charles I is beheaded. Cromwell’s Commonwealth is proclaimed in London. 1651, January 1: Scone, Scotland Charles II is crowned King of Scotland, but after Cromwell’s forces defeat his the young King is forced to flee to France (17 October). 1653, April 14: York County, Virginia William MackGahye is listed as a "headright" on a grant of 1000 acres to William Hoccaday. This means MackGahye is indentured to Hoccaday for a term of years, while the indenture accounts for a portion of the land grant to Hoccaday. 1658, September 3: England Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland, dies. He is succeeded by his son, Richard, who will maintain the Commonwealth until May 25, 1659. 1658, November 17: York County Court, Virginia William MaGahee is a witness in a case concerning a canoe. In testimony he gives his age as 40 years. This would put him in his mid to late 20s during Montrose’s campaign. 1660, May 29: London Charles II arrives to take the throne denied him since his father’s death in 1649. 1661: London King Charles II lifts the 1603 Act of Proscription against Clan Gregor. Although the MacGregors hope to regain their lands as well, this does not come about due to fears that the new Earl of Argyll might become too powerful; Charles’ advisers choose to groom John Campbell of Glenorchy -- who holds the lands Clan Gregor wants restored -- as a counterbalance to Argyll. 1679, April 25: Virginia Thomas Mackgehey purchases 150 acres in Pamunkey Neck from George Smith. This strongly implies his date of birth was no later than 1658. 1685, February 6: England King Charles II dies, is succeeded by his Catholic younger brother, James II. 1688 King James II is driven from the throne, and William of Orange, husband of James’ daughter Mary, takes the throne as William III -- inaugurating the reign of "William and Mary." 1689, May 4: Virginia Thomas MackGehee is appointed a land processioner at a vestry at St. Peter’s Parish Church. The church serves portions of both James City County and New Ke nt County (a portion of which will later become KIng of Scotland.

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