Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Knapdale ancestors, booze and gambling...

The Statistical Accounts for the west highland area are great reading. The writers are all local pastors, and as such as interested in the morals of the populations as they are in the plants and mountains and history of their parishes.

One thing has occurred to me, morality-wise: the comments reflect a continuing concern with the locals' over-indulgence with whiskey. The role of whiskey in the life of the Gael is well known, of course.

However, there is one human weakness NEVER mentioned by these pastors: gambling. Fighting, yes. Drunken brawls, yes. Petty crime and even major crime, yes. Immorality, yes.

But gambling, never.

I wonder why??

answering email

If you have sent me any email during the past week... I haven't answered it because I cannot access my email account. I will be back at home base by the 12th of March, though. And will answer any and all requests!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Inverneill Mausoleum

I have some good news about Inverneill Mausoleum (see Knapdale People Website, in the Monument Inscriptions section): it seems that the descendants of the Campbell of Inverneill family still own the mausoleum, and gather regularly to keep it in good shape.

on childrens' books.. again

When I was a child, I loved reading 'popular' histories, ones with lots of action and romance, but little or no historical nuance. On the other hand, those storybooks helped fix names and dates in my memory in a way that was interesting and fun. In fact, if you are beginning to study anything for the first time, the wisest move is to make your first stop the childrens' section of the Library.

So, I recommend that book on the Campbells of Argyll: you will be surprised how much easier it is when - or if - you move on to more serious works.

There is a copy of the Black Douglas family history book somewhere in Australia (I think).

Cool Book I came across

The author is Hilda T Skae who, it seems, made a career of writing popular histories of Britain. Thomas Nelson published it, but the year of publication is not to be found on my copy.

It's a childrens' book, and it has mistakes (my hero, Major General Sir Archibald Campbell was NOT born at Inverneill...), however, it exemplifies a time when kids read about heroes. And, might I add, CAMPBELL heroes!! Sir Archibald's nephew, James (also buried at Westminster Abbey), is mentioned also, as showing "the true fighting spirit."

A quick look through the internet lists only one in this series: "Black Douglas's", which you can order here (at ) or at abebooks, here. I found this "Campbells of Argyll" book in a second hand bookstore in York.

Celtic Knapdale

On the front page of my "Knapdale People" website, I make the claim that Knapdale and environs was the place where the "Celtic Renaissance" happened. In support of this, I have listed a number of places in Knapdale with the prefix "KIL" meaning a "little cell", or more generally, a place where a Celtic Priest lived, worshipped, and evangelized the Highlanders. After the 17th century, these chapels and burial grounds fell to ruin: the Protestant Reformation replaced them with their own places of worship. Some of the very fine carvings in the Celtic manner have in more recent years been rescued and sheltered in a few re-built chapels. These are well worth a visit when you are in the area.

The "Celtic Page" also has some photos I took while I was in Knapdale a few years ago. I will be adding to this section, showing off some of the carvings I have seen and photographed.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Grahams in Knapdale, by Somerled MacMillan

Catherine Czerkawska in her "God's Islanders" about the people of Gigha, mentions that "Graham" is a very old name on that Island. Well, Somerled McMillan, in HIS book (mentioned below) has a section on the Grahams in Knapdale:
"This very old family is of ecclesiastical origin, their name in the Gaelic language being MAC-GHILLE-MHEARNAIG, 'son of the servant of St Mernoc', but through fanciful etymology they imagined that it was derived from GILLE-BHEARNAIG, 'servant of the bite', or 'greim', hence the change of their surname to GRAHAM. Their lands were known as Oib-MacIlvernock, and latterly as Oib-Greim..... On 22nd June, 1946, the following notice appeared in a well-known Scottish Newspaper: 'By giving up New Danna Farm, Tayvallich, Argyll, Mr. Archibald Graham is said to be ending a tenancy held by his family since 1692."
Such local information is valuable, because this western highland area is simply not covered by the usual Scottish reference books. For example, George F Black's book, "Surnames of Scotland" speaks only of the Anglo Norman Grahams who settled in Dalkeith and Abercorn, etc. The Grahams whose ancestors lived in Knapdale and on the edge of the Celtic Sea were of quite a different people.

A couple of good books on Knapdale

... although they are closer to pamphlets than to 'books.'

The first is called "Mid Argyll: an Archaeological Guide", and was written by one of Scotland's foremost historians and storytellers: Marion Campbell of Kilberry. The book follows various routes around the area, and describes archaeological sites along the way, with nifty stories to go with it. Thus at Keills Chapel, she tells us that a stone in the floor, decorated only with a raised strap and a perforation, reputedly marked the grave of Lame Eoghan, a noted robber, who had the hole made so that he could look out at his beloved hills, or - perhaps - so that he could take snuff with his descendants.

The Natural History and Antiquarian Society of Mid Argyll published this wonderful source in 1984, and (to my knowledge) has not been re-published.

The second is also by a local historian, Somerled MacMillan, described as "Bard and Historian of the Clan MacMillan". Entitled "Families of Knapdale: their history and their placenames", its subtitle says it all: "Being a Compendium of Information on the MacMillans, the MacSweens, the Campbells, the MacNeills, the MacAllisters, the MacTavishes, the MacIlvernocks (or Grahams), and others of Knapdale." Mr McMillan used primary materials as sources, and it is a mine of specific information for Knapdale families and history. It was specially written for a Clan McMillan Rally held in 1960 in Asheville, North Carolina.The book is little more than a typescript, privately printed by Edward B McMillan of Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Those Difficult Campbells

The trouble with the Campbells is that (a) there were a lot of them living in Knapdale back then; and (b) they were extremely frugal with forenames: Duncan, Archibald, Donald... and for a flighty moment every now and then, James and Colin. Girls? Margaret, Sarah, Mary, and then.. Anne/Agnes. Katherine and Effy.

I have been working on a data base of people who lived in Knapdale during that century between 1750 and 1850. The reason I started was to try to differentiate among the Campbells, so as to pick out the progenitor of MY ancestor, Donaldborn about 1800. This data base now includes 38,000 entries, and I am still not sure which Donald is MY Donald.

For example, in the Inverneill Papers, we have the following: a 1814 lease agreement involving the deceased John Campbell, his wife Sarah Lamont, and his sons Duncan, Donald and Archibald. The Proprietor of this Kilmory Ross farm was Duncan Campbell. John Campbell, before his death, had signed up for the 9 year lease (in 1809) along with James Campbell (relationship unknown), so we are talking about half the farm. Duncan Campbell (John's son, NOT the Proprietor) was the "Master of the Charlotte Katharine Sloop" and the eldest son of said John Campbell.

I don't know about you, but half way through this, I was reduced to making notes and diagrams.

Also, John's other son, Archibald, had signed on the lease upon his father's death. However, by 1814, Archibald was set aside (pushed?? He left the country?? He hated Kilmory Ross?? There was a better farm down the road??) in favor of Duncan, who was after all John's eldest son. Then, in 1814, Duncan signed over this lease to his mother, Sarah Lamont, and his OTHER brother, Donald, which is what this paperwork is about.

The rent was L42 for the half of Kilmory Ross... which is in today's terms, L1,426 Sterling, PLUS a list of services and chickens and eggs and grains to be delivered to the Proprietor at Taynish... You can read the whole agreement (upon which Sarah made her "mark", and her son Donald wrote his signature) at Knapdale People website, in the "Inverneill Estate" section.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

another thought on Gigha

One of my ancestors was a McNeill. Her son married a Galbraith in the 1830s, in Knapdale. MY Mary McNeill was born and raised in Killean Parish, but Gigha has always looked (to me) like the mother lode of McNeills and Galbraiths. When Mary had her child in Killean, in 1808, she was unmarried. Subsequently, she moved to Knapdale. Family connections MAY provide the answer. However, when Mary was born, the Killean parish minister did not record the name of the mother (curses!), and so that line of enquiry does not exist.

Another connection with Knapdale: the McNeills of Taynish, and much of the Loch Sween area, were the lairds, before the Great Bankruptcies of the 1700s.

Czerkawska's book notes that there are no more people with the surname of Galbraith on that island. And truly, there is - in our day - a dearth of McNeills in Knapdale.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Book review of "God's Islanders"

Gigha is a small island (7 miles long) beside Kintyre. It is blessed with a fine climate, fertile land, an ancient and rich history, and flowers that produce "a glittering of yellow (that) dazzles your eyes to the point of pain."

Catherine Czerkawska (she has a blog, too) has written a very fine book, the kind that makes you want to stop reading, and go right on over there and visit that lovely place!

Knapdale People now has a review of this book, as well as a listing of people who lived there in 1791. The latter was made when Major General Sir Archibald Campbell was offering to purchase Gigha. This sale did not go through: McNeill of Colonsay stepped in and bought Gigha instead. I wonder if this had anything to do with a traditional antipathy towards the Campbell clan?? All I have are financial accounts left over from the Inverneill Estate recording that long ago inventory.