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kind of traditionary lore, scarcely less efficient, was preserved by means of the Bards and Senachies, or the Elders of the Tribes. With very few laws, and no controlling power to enforce the execution of the few they had, they presented the rare spectacle of a people so beneficially influenced by the simple institutions and habits which they had formed for themselves, that, with all the defects consequent on such a state, they were prepared, with a little cultivation, to become valuable members of society.
In this insulated state, with a very limited admission of strangers, intermarriages and consanguinity were the natural consequence; and many members of the clan bore the same name with the chief. * In this manner a kind and cordial intimacy, and a disposition towards mutual support, were preserved, in a manner totally unknown in modern times. To all, the chief * stood in the several relations of landlord, leader, and judge. He could call out the young back into the history of their tribe, they found his progenitors at their head. Their tales, traditions, and songs, continually referred to the exploits or transactions of the same line of kindred and friends, living under the same line of chiefs; and the transmission of command and obedience, from one generation to another, thus became, in the eye of a Highlander, as natural as the transmission of blood, or the regular laws of descent. The long unbroken line of chiefs * is as great a proof of the general mildness of their sway, as of the fidelity of their followers; for the independent spirit displayed on various occasions by the people, proves that they would not have brooked oppression, where they looked for kindness and protection. «' This power of the chiefs is not supported by interest, as they are landlords, but by consanguinity, as lineally descended from the old patriarchs or fathers of their families; for they hold the same authority when they have lost their estates, as may appear from several instances, and particularly that of one who commands his clan, though at the same time they maintain him, having nothing left of his own.'" This was the late Lord Lovat, who, with all his good and
* A supposition has been entertained, that many changed their names, and assumed names different from that of the clan or family. This was not frequent, and proceeded from a custom, (very necessary where so many were of the same name,) of adding a distinguishing denomination to the Christian name; and sometimes when a man, from respect or gratitude, named his child after a friend, it was continued to the descendants. But instances abound of the wide extension of the same name and clan by lineal descent. Of these the following is one: James Stewart, son of Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, second son of King Robert II. is said to have built the Castle of Garth, and settled there some time after the year 1390. There are now living in the district of Athole, within its ancient boundary, 1835 persons of the name of Stewart, descendants of this man, in the male line, besides numbers in other parts of the kingdom. The descendants through the female line being considerably more numerous, as few women leave the country, in proportion to the number of men who enter the army, and resort to different parts of the world, we have thus nearly 4000 persons now living in one district, descended of this individual. Facts of this nature are easily ascertained in the Highlands, where descent from honourable ancestors is not forgotten or neglected by the poorest individual. It may therefore be believed, that, in former times, the bond of friendship was close and strong, in societies where so much importance was attached to consanguinity. It has likewise been alleged, that the more ancient names and people must have been removed by violence, or extirpated to make room for the more recent clans. This opinion seems founded on conjecture rather than fact. Such changes often
occur from natural causes. The name of Cunnison or Macconich was prevalent in Athole in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries; yet not an individual of that name now remains. All died out without violence or expulsion. In the same period there were twenty-four small landed proprietors, (ot wadsetters, as they were called,) of the Dame of Macraby in Breadalbanc; but not a man of that name is now to be found, nor is there even a tradition of one of them having ever been expelled, or destroyed by violence. All became extinct by natural causes. One of these Macrabys possessed Finlarig, afterwards one of the principal seats of the Glenorchy and Breadalbanc family.
* It may be proper to mention, that many families of the same descent had two names, one common to the whole clan, as Macdonald, Macleod, &c the other to distinguish a branch, which last was called the sun shine, or genealogical surname, taken from the Christian name, or whatever designation marked the first man who branched off from the original family. In this manner, Campbell of Strachur is always called Macarstair or Macarthur, Campbell of Asknish, Macivor, and a tribe of the Robertsons in Perthshire, descendants from Strowan, are also called Clanivor; a tribe descended from Stewart of Garth are Clan Duilach, from their immediate ancestor, who was so denominated from his black eyes. Another tribe of the same family are called Camachas, or Crookshanks, from a bend or deformity in his leg, by which their ancestor was distinguished from others of his name. A class of the Stewarts of Appin are called Combich; and in this manner, through nearly all the clans, tribes, and families, in the Highlands; never, at the same time, forgetting the proper surname of their chief, or stein of their family. Thus, all the Macarthurs of Strachur* are Campbells, as are all the Macivors of Argyleshire; while the Macivors of Athole and Breadalbanc are Robertsons, and the Duilach, Camacbas, and Combich, arc Stewarts, and so sign their names, and are designated in all writings, while in common conversation the bun shite, or genealogical surname, is their usual appellation. To a stranger, the accuracy with which these genealogical connections were preserved may appear ridiculous, but the people filled up many idle hours very innocently with matters of this kind, never failing to bring forward the best traits in the character of their relations. Few men disclaim a relationship to persons of honour, worth, or high station. No claims of this nature were allowed by the Highlanders to sleep; and it is to be wished their conduct would continue, as formerly, to be influenced by the dread of disgracing the honourable race whose blood they believed filled their veins.
* There is a very ancient clan of this name, quite distinct from the branch of the Campbells. The Chief's estate lay on the side of Loch-owe in Argyle
men to attend him at the chace, or to fight under his banners—the mandate which generally met with ready obedience.
The zeal and courage which the Highlanders displayed in the cause of the Stuart princes, particularly in 1745, excited such alarm, and produced such extraordinary effects, as to give an exaggerated idea of their numbers. The peculiarity of their situation, and the sources of their power, which could no longer be despised, were minutely examined, and a Memorial, * said to be drawn up by the Lord President Forbes of Culloden, was transmitted to Government, detailing the force of every clan, the tenures of every chieftain, and the amount of retainers which he could bring into the field. This enumeration proceeds on the supposition that the chieftain calculated upon the military services of the youthful, the most hardy, and the bravest of his followers, omitting those who were infirm from age, those who, from tender years, or natural inability, were unable to carry arms, and those whom it was found necessary to leave at home, for conducting the business of the country. Besides the clans enumerated in this curious document, there were a number of independent gentlemen, who had many followers, but being what were called broken names, or small tribes, they are omitted in the Lord President's report.
After treating of the general character of the Highlanders, the Memorial particularizes each clan, and subjoins statements of their respective forces, as under, f
* See Appendix, C.
.f Argyle ... 3000
Breadalbane ... 1000
Macleans ... 500
Maclachlans - - - 300
Stewart of Appin - - - 300
Macdougals ... 200
Stewart of Grandtully - - 300
Clan Gregor - - - 700
DukedfAthole - - . 3000
Farquharsons * 500
• When the first Marquis of Huntly waited upon King James VI, in
Edinburgh, on being created Marquis, in the year 1590, he stood in the
presence chamber with his head covered; and on being reminded of his
iteming want of respect, he humbly asked pardon, assigning as an excuse,
that as he bad just come from a country where all took off their bonnets to him, he had quite forgotten what he owed to bis present situation.
* Eighteen Highland chiefs fought under Robert Bruce at Bannockburn. The number of direct descendants now in existence, and in possession of their paternal estates, is singular. The chiefs at Bannockburn were Stewart, Macdonald, M'Kay, Mackintosh, Macpherson, Cameron, Sinclair, Campbell, Menzies, Maclean, Sutherland, Robertson, Grant, Fraser, Macfarlane, Ross, MacgTegor, Munro, Mackenzie, and Macquarrie. Gumming, Macdougall of Lorn, M'Nab, and a few others, were also present, but unfortunately in opposition to Bruce.
When we consider the state of turbulence and misrule which prevailed in the Highlands, this unbroken succession, for five hundred years, of so great a proportion of the chief agitators and leaders, is the more remarkable; as there has been a greater change of property within the last forty years of tranquillity, abundance, and wealth, than in the preceding two hundred years of feuds, rapine, and comparative poverty.
f Letters from an Officer of Engineers to his friend in London.