Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dr William Roulston's review of 'Finding the McCains.'

“In writing this book, Barry McCain has done a great service not only to those interested in the McCain ancestry, but to everyone fascinated by the millennia-old connections between Scotland and Ireland. In this volume he demonstrates the complexity of those connections, highlighting, for example, the often-overlooked Gaelic heritage of many of the families from Scotland that made Ulster their home. His use of DNA analysis to investigate otherwise hidden aspects of his ancestry serves as an exemplar of the way in which this technology can be applied to family history and the search for our forebears. Throughout this book Barry's enthusiasm for his ancestry in both Scotland and Ireland, and his love for the people of both countries, shines through. This is a book to encourage all of us as we seek to discover something more of our past.”

Dr William Roulston, Research Director of the Ulster Historical Foundation

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gaelic Female Ancestor Names pre 1600 in Genetic Genealogy

As you progress with your genetic genealogy research you will eventually reach a point where records were not written in modern English.   The records are in Gaelic or written is an English dialect, such as Lallans, with the surname rendered into phonetic Gaelic.

With men’s names this does not present too much difficulty if you are familiar with their Gaelic forms, but, do not overlook the possibility of locating a female ancestor from this time period.  Most records and pre 1600 genealogies tend to feature only male names.  However, in some cases the name of a female ancestor will appear, but you will need to know how to recognize the surname when you see it.

Finding the name of a male ancestor is fairly straight forward.  It will appear in some anglicized or phonetic spelling of the original Gaelic surnames.  Most people are familiar with male surnames in Gaelic; Ó means “descendant of” and Mac means “son of.”   Mag is an alternative spelling of Mac and was sometimes used when the name that follows it began with a vowel.  The ladies used a similar system. Girls and unmarried women with surnames that began with Ó would have before their surname.  Girls and unmarried women whose family surname began with Mac would use Nic.

Married women would take their husbands names, but the prefix form was different than the male form.  Ó became and Mac became Mhic.  This name change did not always hide the surname of the woman’s father however.  In traditional Gaelic society some women were known by their maiden names due to the strong sense of family and clan affiliation.

Two examples from the mid to late 1500s:  Fionnuala Nic Eáin married Dónaill Mac Ailín.  Her “married name” becomes Fionnuala Mhic Ailín.  In actuality, she retained her maiden name in the community and is listed by that name in the records.  Her name appears crudely anglicised as Finvall Nikean.  Here is an entry from the Argyll records where she appears:

…In the same year (1572) Finvall Nikean, the wife of Donald M'Alane V'Donile of Dunnad, resigned to James Scrymgeoure of Dudhope constable of Dundee the twenty shillinglands of Carnyame, the said Donald warranting the constable free of all harm in respect of the lands from the heirs of the deceased Lauchlane M'Donald V'Alane.

This data allowed me to place Fionnuala Nic Eáin to the House of Dónaill Mac Ailín’s cousin.

          The next example is Aifric Nic Dhonnachaidh Rua the wife of Malcolm Scrymgeour.  Again, this Gaelic woman does not use her husband’s surname, but rather a name that identifies her clan.  In this case she is linked to the family of Donnchadh Rua Mac Ailín of Dunemuck, a thane in Glassary and who held his lands through Clann Lachlainn.  In the actual record her name is recorded as “Effreta nein Donche roy.”

 When you get on the trail of your ancestors pre 1600 be aware of both male and female forms of your surname.  You might make a great find, I have done it several times now.



Saturday, May 9, 2015

Iníon Dubh, Scottish Princess

model and photographer Niamh O'Rourke and actor, archaeologist, Dave Swift portray Iníon Dubh and Redshank in a recent Irish photo shoot.  

Iníon Dubh (said, Nee-an doo) is one of the most remembered and beloved heroines in Irish history.  Iníon Dubh was her pet name which means 'black haired daughter.'  She was Fionnuala Ní Dhónaill née Nic Dhónaill.  She was a Gaelic aristocrat, the daughter of the taoiseach of clann Mhic Dhónaill, Seamus Mac Dónaill, and Anna Chaimbeul, the daughter of the third Earl of Argyll, head of clann Chaimbeul.  She was multi lingual, speaking her native Gaelic, Latin, and English.  She was born on Islay and spent much of her early life in the Scottish Court.  She married Aodh Mac Manus Ó Dónaill in the summer of 1569.   She moved to the Laggan district of Donegal with some 1,000 Redshanks recruited from clans Caimbeul and Mac Dónaill.

With her husband's health failing, she became the de facto taoiseach of Clann Uí Dhónaill by the mid 1580s.  She was by this time also the most powerful person in west Ulster, because she commanded her own army of very devoted Redshanks.  An account of her career in Donegal will be included in the book A Short History of the Laggan Redshanks, 1569-1630, which will be published by Ulster Heritage Publishing later this spring.

Iníon Dubh was the mother of Aodh Rua Ó Dónaill who led his west Ulster army to many victories against the English in the Nine Years War (1594-1603). 

She lived at Mongavlin just south of St Johnston, in east Donegal.  The remains of her castle are still standing.  Her legacy still lives in Donegal in the many families there that are of Redshank origins.

(Below, the chapter on Iníon Dubh from the book Finding the McCains  which is available on Amazon)

Iníon Dubh

The River Foyle is a large, brown water, tidal river, that flows north into Loch Foyle and then on into the Atlantic Ocean.  It begins at the town of Lifford in Donegal from the confluence of the Finn and Mourne rivers.  The Foyle is one of the best salmon fishing areas in Ireland.  The low lands on the west side of the river are called the Lagan,[1] taking that name from the Gaelic word lagan, meaning a hollow or low lying area.  In the Lagan, on the banks of the river, is the small market town of St Johnston.  The lands around St Johnston are green and fertile and there you will see the many shades of Irish green.  It is a beautiful area where farms still flourish and time is marked by the changing seasons.  In Elizabethan times, this part of the Lagan was called the Portlough precinct.  After her marriage to Aodh Mac Manus Ó Dónaill, Iníon Dubh settled just south of St Johnston at Mongavlin castle.  This is also where the McCains first appear in Ireland.

It was a highly strategic area. Not only was it fertile, rich land, but the Foyle River on the Lagan's eastern border provided easy access into O’Donnell lands.  Troops were needed there to protect the Foyle river ports. Large number of Redshanks accompanied Iníon Dubh to her new home there to accomplish this task.  Accounts vary, but the number of Redshanks was certainly over 1,000.  There was, throughout her time in the Lagan, an ebb and flow of Redshanks as the military needs of Clan O’Donnell dictated.  Iníon Dubh was aggressive in her efforts to defend west Ulster from English rule and her weapon of choice were the tall, fair, broad shouldered Gaels of Argyll.

Iníon Dubh was a traditional Gaelic woman, but she was also able to interact with the Elizabethan English on their terms. She spent her teenage years in the Scottish court and understood the subtle nuances of politics and war.  She had command of a large force of Redshanks and was not afraid to put them into use.  Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh, her contemporary and biographer of her son, wrote of her “she was the head of advice and counsel of the Cenél Conaill (Clan O’Donnell), and though she was calm and very deliberate and much praised for her womanly qualities, she had the heart of a hero and the mind of a soldier,”[2]  She has a unique place in Irish history.  She was a Scottish aristocrat, her father the head of Clan Donald and her mother the daughter of the Campbell chief, but she became a heroine of the Irish in the north.  Iníon Dubh is best remembered for her defense of her sons, who had glorious but tragic lives as Gaelic warriors. 

Iníon Dubh’s main residence in the Lagan was the castle at Mongavlin.  She had a secondary house at Carrigans, just north of St Johnston.  These locations were not random.  Both were river harbors where the Redshank galleys could easily land.  It is not a large area. Carrigans is only one and three quarters miles north of St Johnston and Mongavlin is only two and a quarter miles to its south.  The Redshanks of Iníon Dubh settled around her within the five or so miles between Mongavlin and Carrigans. 

The Elizabethan English were very cognizant of the Redshanks in Ireland.  The Calendar of the State Papers Relating To Ireland has correspondences of English officials in Ulster reporting their movements from the mid-1500s onward.  The English feared the Redshanks and the actions of Iníon Dubh in particular.  Scotland was still considered a threat to England and so many Scots in Ireland was considered an invasion of English ruled land.  Iníon Dubh used her Campbell clan connections to great effect and made many trips to Argyll to visit the fifth Earl of Argyll and his successor.  She would stay for several months, recruiting her Redshanks, and return with a fleet of Gaelic galleys to her lands on the shores of the River Foyle.

There is a description of these Redshanks found in the early 1600s book Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill (Life of Aodh Rua Ó Dónaill), written by the seanchaí (historian) of Clan O’Donnell, Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh:

They were recognized among the Irish soldier by the distinction of their arms and clothing, their habits and language, for their exterior dress was mottled cloaks of many colors with a fringe to their shins and calves, their belts were over their loins outside their cloaks.  Many of them had swords with hafts of horn, large and warlike, over their shoulders.  It was necessary for the soldier to grip the very haft of his sword with both hands when he would strike a blow with it.  Others of them had bows of carved woods strong for use, with well-seasoned strings of hemp, and arrows sharp pointed, whizzing in flight.[3]

Ó Cléirigh’s comments referred to the arrival in Derry of a thousand Redshanks under Dónall Gorm Mac Dónaill of Skye and  Mac Leóid of Arran in 1594.  They were in the service of Iníon Dubh’s son and part of his troop build-up at the beginning of the Nine Year's War.  Ó Cléirigh was an eyewitness to these events and his account provides insight into the physical appearance of the Redshanks in the 1590s.  For centuries Irish and Scottish Gaels had dressed identically in a saffron colored léine (long shirt to the knees) and jacket.  By the late 1500s, the unique dress of the Scottish Gaels had developed and the belted kilt was worn by many Redshanks.  The two handed swords and bows described by Ó Cléirigh were the favorite weapons of the Redshanks and they were proficient in their use.  Ó Cléirigh also noted the dialect differences in the Gaelic spoken by these Redshanks.

Both the native Irish and the English made a distinction between the older Scots in Ireland, the Gallóglaigh, and the newer Scots, the Redshanks.  The native Irish called the Redshanks, na Albanaigh, which simply means “the Scots.”   The English called them Irish-Scots, Scots-Irish, or Redshanks.  By the mid-1500s, some Redshanks were settling in Ulster and not returning back to Scotland after the campaigning season.  In 1542, John Travers, the Master of the Ordnance in Ireland wrote:

… where as a company of Irisshe Skottes otherwise called Redshankes daily commeth into the northe parties of Irelande and purchaseth castels and piles uppon the seecoste there so as it is thought that there be at this present above the nombre of 2 or 3 thousande of them within this Realme…[4]

In April of 1571, Lord Justice William FitzWilliam wrote to the Privy Council:

The Scots in the North build, manure the ground, and settle, as though they should never be removed.[5]

By 1580, Iníon Dubh and her Redshanks began to dominate the political and military affairs of western Ulster.  She was by this time the acting head of Clan O’Donnell.  Some sources say her husband, Aodh Mac Manus, was growing senile.  The reasons she took the reins of leadership were probably multiple and included her husband’s age, failing health, and loss of mental clarity.  Iníon Dubh’s early life in the Scottish court and her links to Clan Campbell and Clan Donald gave her the needed connections and experience to protect her family’s position.  She also had her own army, which she paid and commanded personally, and her Redshanks were completely devoted to her.

There were many threats to Iníon Dubh.  The children of her husband by his first wife were rivals to her own children and there was always the English to contend with.  In 1587, John Perrot, the English Lord Deputy of Ireland, wanted hostages from the O’Donnells to insure that they would not aid the Spanish in their war against England.  Perrot plotted to kidnap Iníon Dubh and her husband, but only their oldest son, Aodh Rua, fell into English hands.  He was imprisoned in Dublin Castle.  Iníon Dubh threw all her energies into freeing her son and making him the head of Clan O’Donnell.  In 1588, Iníon Dubh attempted to obtain the release of Aodh Rua by rounding up some survivors of the Spanish Armada that made land fall in Donegal and presenting them to the English in Dublin as an exchange for her son.  The English took the prisoners, but had them all executed and kept Aodh Rua in his dungeon cell.  She then told the English she would work with the Spanish if they did not release him, again with no success.

It was decidedly unhealthy to cross Iníon Dubh in matters relating to her children.  She was in a vulnerable position with her husband in failing health and her oldest son a prisoner of the English, yet she managed to hold on to power.  Her husband was thought by some within Clan O’Donnell as unfit to be head of the clan.  The first rival to press the issue was Aodh Mac Calbhach Ó Gallchobhair.  He was a mysterious figure, perhaps an illegitimate son of Calbhach Ó Dónaill, or perhaps fostered with Calbhach’s family. Whatever the case, he let it be known he could take the headship.  Aodh Mac Calbhach had cooperated with the English and had been an accomplice in the infamous murder of Iníon Dubh’s first cousin, Alasdair Mac Somhairle Mac Dónaill.  In 1588, Aodh Mac Calbhach attempted to visit Iníon Dubh at her castle and press the issue.  Iníon Dubh was not impressed.  She addressed her beloved Redshanks about the need for justice and revenge upon Aodh Mac Calbhach.  They attacked Aodh Mac Calbhach while he was in St Johnstown, killing him and his entire party.

Another of Iníon Dubh’s rivals was her husband’s son by an earlier marriage, Dónall Mac Aodh Ó Dónaill.  Dónall proclaimed himself as head of Clan O’Donnell.  He also underestimated Iníon Dubh.  She took command of her army of Redshanks and marched out to meet Dónaill Ó Dónaill in battle.  Dónall assembled a formidable host that included his factions within Clan O’Donnell, along with allied clans.  The Battle of Derrylaghan took place on 14 September 1590 when the two armies met to the south of Gleann Cholm Cille near the village of Teileann.  The Redshanks used their bows to stun Dónall’s army and then closed with their two handed swords.  Dónall’s army was crushed and he, many of the Irish nobles, and 200 of their men, were killed. 

Aodh Rua finally escaped Dublin Castle in 1592.  Iníon Dubh persuaded her husband to abdicate and Aodh Rua became The Ó Dónaill.  Iníon Dubh bought off the last rival claiming the headship of the clan, Niall Garbh Ó Dónaill, and arranged a marriage between him and her daughter Nuala.

The English tried to oust Aodh Rua, but with no success.  Aodh Rua and his Redshanks won several sharp engagements against the English. Then he allied himself with Aodh Mór Ó Neill and that began the Nine Years War (1594-1603).   In the conflict, Aodh Rua and Aodh Mór Ó Neill had many victories and defeated every English army sent to destroy them in Ulster.  For seven years they held the English armies at bay, but both leaders knew this could not last.  English pressure on the north was increasing and the Irish sought Spanish help with the war.  Spain finally managed to land a small force, but in the worst possible place, on the opposite end of the country.   The small Spanish force landed in County Cork and were promptly besieged by the English under Lord Mountjoy.  Aodh Rua and Ó Neill had no choice, if they wanted Spanish help, but to march across Ireland to relieve the Spanish besieged there.  In Ulster, the Irish victories were due to the complete support of the people and the heavily wooded and mountainous terrain which suited the Gaelic style of war.   Many of the Irish victories were fought from ambush in passes and along winding roads in deep forests or from a fixed, prepared position.  These were styles of warfare that favored the Gaels.  It was a great gamble for Aodh Rua and Ó Neill to abandon what had served them so well, but they needed Spanish help to push the English out of Ireland.  Against their better judgment, they marched across the country to Cork to assist their besieged Spanish allies.  The Battle of Kinsale was fought on 3 January 1602 when the Irish army attempted to relieve the Spanish.  The Irish were forced into open field battle and were utterly defeated.  Aodh Rua took a ship to Spain to organize further resistance, but he died a few months later, thought to be poisoned by an English spy.

Aodh Mór Ó Neill returned to Ulster.  In 1607, he also left for Spain, along with Aodh Rua’s brother, Ruairi, who had become The Ó Dónaill after Aodh Rua's death.  Their intention was to raise money and an army to continue the war.  They set sail from Rathmullan, a small village on the shore of Loch Swilly in County Donegal, with ninety followers, many of them the cream of Ulster’s Gaelic nobles, an event known as the Flight of the Earls.  Their destination was Spain, but they landed first in France. Some made their way to Spanish Flanders, while others continued on to Rome.  Their plans came ultimately to nothing and both Ruairi Ó Dónaill and Aodh Mór Ó Neill died in exile.

One of Iníon Dubh’s last recorded acts was a small piece of unfinished business.  Niall Garbh Ó Dónaill had turned traitor in the end, supporting the English against Aodh Rua.  Iníon Dubh implicated Niall Gabh in a failed uprising in 1608 and he spent the rest of his days in the Tower of London where he died.  Iníon Dubh’s daughter, Nuala, left Niall Garbh, taking their children with her.

The year of 1609 brought great change in Ulster.  The old Gaelic order had finally been broken and this allowed for the Plantation of Ulster.  The lands of Clan O’Donnell were confiscated under James I.  This included Iníon Dubh’s lands at Portlough precinct in the Lagan. This part of the Lagan was planted by Scots.  The two main families of Undertakers in the Portlough precinct were the Stewarts of Lennox and Cunninghams of Ayrshire.  Both families had close ties to James I and received large grants of land.  However, there was already a Scottish community in the Lagan. Iníon Dubh’s Campbell Redshanks, including the McCains, were already living in the Portlough precinct.

[1] See Lagan map page 2.
[2] Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh, Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhómhnaill, trans. Paul Walsh (Cork: University College, 2012. http://www.ucc.ie/celt, 39.
[3] Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh, Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhómhnaill, trans. Paul Walsh (Cork: University College, 2012. http://www.ucc.ie/celt, 73.
[4] Hamilton, Calendar, 302.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog: British origins (Leslie et al. 2015)

Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog: British origins (Leslie et al. 2015): The long-awaited paper on the People of the British Isles has just appeared in Nature. I will update this entry with more information. UP...

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Mid Argyll MacAlpins, a DNA study

The Mid Argyll MacAlpins

Kilmichael Glassary Parish, Mid Argyll

The Mid Argyll Kinship DNA Project is a genetic genealogy research project on a group of families that share the same paternal ancestry, primarily from the parish of Kilmichael Glassary in mid Argyll.  Two of the families in the group are the MacAlpins (Mac Ailpín) and MacCains (Mac Eáin).  The chronology of the common male ancestor of these two mid Argyll families is currently under study.  Members of both families are doing the "Big Y" DNA test.  The BIG Y is a direct paternal lineage test and explores deep ancestral links.  It tests both thousands of known branch markers and millions of places where there may be new branch markers.  Both the Mac Ailpín and Mac Eáin families share SNP FGC19435 and the projected chronology to the TMRCA is circa 500AD.  The basic question is, are these MacAlpin families connected to the historical king from mid-Argyll, Coinneach Mac Ailpín (810 AD – 858 AD).  Coinneach Mac Ailpín was the first king of Scotland and founder of a dynasty which ruled Scotland for much of the medieval period.  This would mean the entire Mid Argyll Kinship group descends paternally from this old Dal Riada family.

The MacCains go back to a pivotal figure of Giolla Chríost who was a lord in Kilmichael Glassary in the 1200s.  He had three sons. One of these sons, Giolla Padraig, was the progenitor of the Cowal Clann Lachlainn.  His other two sons, Giolla Easpuig and Eoghann, had lands in Kilmichael Glassary in mid Argyll.  The descendants of Giolla Easpuig and Eoghann eventually lost their lands in Glassary to the Scrymgeour family.  In the late-1200s, Giolla Easpuig’s line failed to produce a male heir and their lands went to Ralf of Dundee by marriage. The lands of Eoghann were held by his son named Eáin, which passed to his sons by the 1340s.   In 1346, the Scottish Crown forfeited the Glassary lands of Eáin’s sons to Gilbert of Glassary, who was a grandson of Ralf of Dundee.  So by the late 1300s, Gilbert of Glassary had acquired, technically that is, much of the lands of the descendants of Giolla Easpuig and Eoghann, the two sons Giolla Chríost.  However, Gilbert of Glassary produced no male heir and in the 1370s all of these lands went to Alexander Scrymgeour, who had married Agnes, the daughter and heiress of Gilbert of Glassary.

How much control the Scrymgeour family had over the lands that had belonged to Giolla Easpuig and Eoghann Mac Giolla Chríost is questionable.  At this time, Glassary was the epicenter of the Redshanks society. Redshanks were a warrior class in high demand as mercenaries in Scotland, Ireland, and Europe.  They were a law unto themselves. They were supported by the tenants of the lord, a practice called “sorning.”  One sixteenth-century Scottish observer complained that the Glassary Redshanks were, “wild men who cannot be coerced or punished by secular judge or power.”[1]  The local lore says, and it is probably correct, that the descendants of Eáin son of Eoghann Mac Giolla Chríost took the “clan” surname of their cousins, the Mac Lachlainns of Cowal, and remained on their lands in Glassary.  It is also remembered that the Scrymgeours, quite wisely, made no changes and did not require rents, per se.  Given the remoteness of mid Argyll and the warlike nature of the local Gaels, the Scrymgeours showed wisdom.  The status of land possession in Glassary becomes clearer when a “McCain” family appears there in the 1430s and we are told they are of Clann Lachlainn.

In 1432, a John M’Ean (Eáin Mac Eáin) appears in the Glassary writs selling a tract of land at Kilmun in Cowal to John Scrymgeour, son of Alexander.  In the writs, we are told John M’Ean’s uncle is Giolla Easpuig Mac Eáin, showing us they both were known by the same surname.[2]  Then four years later, in 1436, Ailean Mac Eáin received a grant to extensive lands in Glassary which included many of the lands that had been held by Giolla Easpuig and Eoghann, the two sons of Giolla Chríost.  Ailean Mac Eáin’s son, Dunnchadh Rua, is also listed as “McCain” in the 1400s.  In other words, a McCain family appears on the scene in the 1430s in control of the lands held by Giolla Chríost’s two sons in Glassary.  Alastair Campbell of Airds, the Officer of Arms of Scotland and historian, noticed the appearance in Glassary of these McCains in his book The History of Clan Campbell.  When writing about the sale of land by John M’Ean to Sir John Scrymgeour he noted, “the lands of Kilmun presumably held by the MacIans or MaKanes, whoever they may have been.”[3]  Mac Phail, the editor of the The Highland Papers, also noticed this McCain group and observed they were probably descendants of Giolla Easpuig Mac Giolla Chríost.[4]   I would agree with this observation, but suspect they were the descendants of Eáin the son of Eoghann Mac Giolla Chríost. This is why they were known in Gaelic as the Mac Eáin family.  The salient point is that, from the early 1430s onward, there was a McCain family and Ailean Mac Eáin and his son Dunnchadh Rua were part of this family and they were connected to the Scrymgeour family through multiple marriages and land transactions.

Much of the history can be deduced from the lands themselves.  Several of the Glassary lands that Eoghann and his brother Giolla Easpuig held are the same ones granted to Ailean Mac Eáin in 1436 and later held by his sons.  Put into a historical context, the 1400s were a golden age for the local Gaelic powers in mid Argyll and Eáin Mac Lachlainn’s (Taoiseach of Clann Lachlainn) grant to Ailean Mac Eáin reflects this.  There may have been official land resignations, but the reality was Clann Lachlainn still retained control of much of their ancestral lands in Glassary and the 1436 grant confirms this.

By the late 1500s, McCain was fixed as a surname. This was almost certainly done to distinguish them as the line of Ailean Mac Eáin.  This use of the surname was noticed by local historian Herbert Campbell in the 1922, volume 38 edition of The Genealogist.  As he put it, “it is practically sure that two of the three Johns nicknamed ‘reoch’ belonged to the Dunadd line, so that it looks as though the family were playing with the nickname.”[5]  “John Reoch” was Campbell’s way of anglicizing Eáin Riabhach.  He was correct. The name was being used more at that time.  An example of what Herbert Campbell meant is seen in the name of Giolla Easpuig Mac Eáin Riabhach Mhic Dhonnchaidh Rua Mhic Lachlainn, who appears in the Lamont Papers in 1612.  This derbhfine name would be Archibald McCain in today’s English.  In 1570, Alexander M’Ean of Glassary held the lands at Bormolloch.   Bormolloch is the farmstead to the immediate east of Creag an Tairbh.  Significantly, Alexander M’Ean is listed in the Scrymgeour family records showing yet another connection between these two families.[6]  One Campbell tacsman listed in the year 1603 is “John M’Donald V’Ean, alias M’Loauchlan.”[7]  In Gaelic, his name was Eáin Mac Dónaill Mhic Eáin.  The “alias M’Loauchlan” means also known as Mac Lachlainn.  In 1705, another example of the multiple surname use is recorded in the Argyll justiciary records, with “Duncan Vc Lauchlane alias McEan.”[8]  These are examples of a clerk feeling the need to clarify a McCain’s clan affiliation.

The Mid Argyll MacAlpins are more difficult to locate in the primary sources in the 1400s, but in the 1500s they appear and are linked to the Ailean Mac Eáin family.  On 6 May 1573 John McDonche VcAlpine (Eáin Mac Donnchaidh Mhic Ailpín) was a witness to a sasine given by Alexander Scrymgeour at Kirnan, Kilmichael Glassary parish.  Alexander Scrymgeour was father of James Scrymgeour who was married to Aifric Nic Dhonnchaidh Rua (a descendent of Donnchadh Rua Mac Eáin).   This established a connection in the primary sources between the Mac Ailpín and Mac Eáin families.  Next we have, on 4 January 1608, in the Poltalloch Writs recorded at Inveraray castle, the Earl of Argyll addressed a precept of clare constat to Duncan McAlpine (Donnchadh Mac Ailpín) in Garbhallt.[9]  Garbhallt was part of Donnchadh Rua Mac Eáin's lands.  By the 1600s, there are many Mac Ailpín families that show up in the records, often living in the same settlements as the McCains other descendants of Ailean Mac Eáin. The MacAlpin families that participated in the DNA test were from the Loch Ederline area, which is on the southern end of Loch Awe within minutes of both Garbhallt and Bormolloch.

While the research is still on going, the DNA results of the mid Argyll Mac Ailpín family suggests they may be the historical Mac Ailpín family and their paternal line provided other clan progenitors in mid Argyll. The ancestral origins results for the family shows connections to central Scotland and no deep connections to Ireland, which  points to an indigenous Cumbric or Pict progenitor of this family.  News and research updates of the mid Argyll Mac Ailpín families will be posted on the Mid Argyll Group’s blog page.

[1] Heather Frances James, Medieval Rural Settlement, a study of Mid-Argyll, Scotland, (PhD thesis, University of Glasgow) 124.
[2] JRN MacPhail, 175.
[3] Alastair Campbell, The History of Clan Campbell, Volume I, From Origins to Flodden, (Edinburg, Edinburg University Press, 2000) 127.
[4] MacPhail, 225,226.
[5] Harwood,”Poltalloch Writs”, 71.
[6]  J Maitland Thomson, ed., Inventory of Documents Relating to the Scrymgeour Family Estates 1611 (Edinburgh: J Skinner and Company, 1912), 24.
[7] Innes, Parochiales, 165. Taken from the Brendalbane Charters.
[8] John Cameron, ed., The Justiciary Records of Argyll and the Isles 1664-1705, Volume 1(Edinburgh, The Stair Society), 75.
[9] Ibid., 142.