"In ancient days the Bishops of Argyle made Lismore their fertile and peaceful abode, and there the forefathers of Duncan McLaren lived for generations." Duncan McLaren, MP, 1800 -1886.
Duncan’s clergy ancestors lived on Balimackillichan Farm, just northeast of St. Moluag’s Cathedral. The Bishops of Argyle came from the local, indigenous folk of Lismore and the adjoining abbey lands.
These McLaurin clergy families are thought to be the heirs of Saint Moluag the patron saint of Cenél Loairn. Nearby are the ‘Laity’ readers, known as the Mhic Laeich who descend from ‘Fin’ the ‘lay son of Fearchar’ who probably lived at Bachuil, where Niall Livingstone of Bachuill lives, “Keeper of St. Moluag’s Crozier” and Chief of the McLeas’ and Livingstones’. Niall Livingstone of Bachuill, the only Saint Columba heir, out of thousands from the district of Loairn, to be recognized as a Clan Chief within the Cenél Loairn. Quite an honor.
“Dominican bishops such as ‘Laurentius Dei gratia epifcopus Ergadie’ and Andrew were, like Màrtainn of Argyll, probably local men who were unlikely to have regarded the western seaboard of Scotland as ‘missionary’ territory.” MacDonald, Iain. The Northern World : Clerics and Clansmen : The Diocese of Argyll between the Twelfth and Sixteenth Centuries (1). Leiden, NL: Brill, 2013.
Laurentius Dei gratia epifcopus Ergadie’s descendants and followers in Argyll and Kintyre included:
Vicar Laurancii at Kilmartin, 1355
Vicar Laurancii at Ardchattan, 1420
Vicar Dugal Cristini Laurencii at Kilmichael, Glassary, 1436
Vicar Donald Dominici Maclaurante at Kilkerran, Kintyre, 1456
Vicar Johannes M’Lern, 1466.
All the McLaurin McLaren MhicLabhrainn McLearan McVicar McClaren Labhruidh Lawrie MacLaurine MacRorie MacLarine McLaurence McClaurine MacLerran V’Lauren Paterson Mclerran MacLaren Mclaren MacLawrence McClarin Labhrann McClaran Mac Laren Mclarrin McLarrin MhicLabhruinn McClarren MacLaurin Maklawryn Lowrey MacLerran Ni Labhradha Lamrainn McClerren MacLaurin McClerren McClaran McClarion MacRory Maclaren Mcclarence McClarence McLearan McClearn McLarnan Laurentius McClerhan Mcillerin McClearn McLairens McLaurie McClaring MacRauri McLawrin.
So why yet another Clan McLaren history? Well..... because I longed for more history than what was offered in the clan history books that are available. I have read them all, including “The MacLarens” by Margaret MacLaren, James Logan’s “The Scottish Gael” and “McIan’s Costumes of the Clans of Scotland”, Frank Adam’s “The Clans, Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands“, George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire’s “Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia”, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney “The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland”. I even managed to acquire a photocopy of Daniel MacLaurin’s “History in Memoriam of the Clan Laurin” that he self published in 1865.
Each of these books have in common a McLaren clan history with hardly any variation from one another and certainly no new research on the authors part. They all seemed to be repeating the first author James Logan’s “McIan’s Costumes of the Clans of Scotland” from 1845. Over the years new ‘facts’ did appear but there were no sources cited which created skepticism. As a result I started my own research which the rapidly expanding internet made posssible even from Lubbock, Texas. Along the way I made contact with Ronald Black whose comment below confirmed what I was beginning to suspect. Other Scottish scholars were generous with their time and I began to realize that there are two clan histories in Scotland the ‘real history’ which some academia is aware of and the ‘completely fictional history’ contained in the above list of books, which continues to flourish to promote Scotland’s tartan and tourist industries.
“With the outstanding exceptions of David Sellar and Alastair Campbell of Airds, Lyons and their courtiers tend to make things up, and to be associated with popular glossy books on the clans, not with serious history.” Ronnie Black, https://www.birlinn.co.uk/Ronald-Black/ , https://www.amazon.co.uk/Books-Ronald-Black
These clan histories are based on passages from the novels of Sir Walter Scott and R. L. Stevenson, outright fabrications and lazy errors and they should be ignored entirely. So be suspicous if the authority on McLaren clan history repeats the sentence quoted below it is a complete fabrication, with absolutely no basis in fact.
“Balquhidder and Strathearn has ever been known as the country''of the Clan Laurin” James Logan 1845
What you will discover from the following pages, is that there were three separate geo-political kin-groups that were identified with the name “son of Laurence”. The smallest of the three, being the Balquhidder/Strathearn group. From this knowledge we now know that most McLarens did not come from Balquhidder or Strathearn, most immigrated from where the largest number lof McLaresn ived in Breadalbane on the River Tay, or from Lorn in Argyll on the west coast, which includes the parishes of Appin, Ardchattan and Kilmartin primarily.
The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs in Scotland freely admits on their website that the modern clan culture is based on novels. James Logan actually cites Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly novels as the source for the well know Balquhidder McLaren - Stewart of Appin alliance, another myth that still flourishes unchecked which recently resulted in a dishonorable McLaren narrative at the Culloden Battlefield.
"The clan system as we know it today was created over the course of a few years in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. At its heart were the novels of Walter Scott who triggered an extraordinary revival of interest in the Highlands and Highland history." https://www.clanchiefs.org.uk/the-modern-clan-system/
The most important fact that I have come to realize, is that the McLaurins originated in Lorn which most academic historians agree on. However, the legend that they left during the time of Kenneth MacAlpine in the ninth century for lands given to them by Kenneth MacAlpine in Strathearn is incorrect, there no records that support that claim. Also, concerning the two earliest known individuals in Perthshire, Abbott Labhran of Achtow who is the eponym of the Balquhidder MacLarens and Laurin of Ardveich, the former never existed and the latter was not a McLaurin at all.
The fact is the first McLaren in Balquhidder did not arrive until 1512, much later than claimed. This knowledge requires us to reexaminationexamine MacLaren history, because now that we know the facts, the rest that followed makes even less sense than previously and does not withstand basic scutiny.
This volume is mostly a collection of historical document transciptions or images of the documents, the result of a fifty years of research resulting in what I believe to be an accurate record of the McLaurin family. Many of them are legal documents that would withstand judicial review. Every day more historic documents are being released and available online. So if you want to check on something simply do a “search” online and you will probably see my source. They are usually well past the Ads, so scroll down a page or two.
My journey started in 1967 with a letter from Banks McLaurin Jr., who along with James Hudson McLaurin formed the Clan MacLaren Society U.S.A to publish their and other contributors research into a cohesive family history. Over the next decade they published the “Quarterly” forty-four of them, typically of about 30 pages in length. It was not too many years into the project that they realized that the name “MacLaren” had been a poor choice for the Society as they found that the American McLaurins from Lorn had nothing to do historically with the Perthshire McLarens. This work is my first attempt at publication and it is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, I had to draw the line at some point. There is a lot more history out there, like the prosecution of James of the Glens, the truth said to lie in Stewartsville Cemetery in Laurinburg, North Carolina. The massive amount of Campbell records at Inverary Castle need close examination. There is much yet to be learned.
A HUGE thank you for the wonderful McLaurin book, Vol.1. A great job and certain to be on interest to many! Salute to you for your excellent, tireless, and often thankless task! Bill Caudill, Professor of Music, Director of the Scottish Heritage Center at St. Andrews Presbyterian College, Laurinburg, NC
Thank you all for your encouragement and the prodding to make my McLaurin and McLaren research available after all of these years! Hilton McLaurin
Origin of the Family
Laurence de Ergadia, Bishop of Argyll at Lismore
Bishop Laurence and Robert the Bruce
In Ancient Days
Vicar Labhruinn, Kilmartin, Glassary 1355
Vicar Labhruinn, Kilbodan (Ardchattan), Lorn 1420
Vicar Dubhgall mac Ghille-Chríost Mhic Labhruinn, 1436
Donald Dominici Maclaurante, Kilkerran, Kintyre, 1456
Vicar Johannes M’Lern, 1466
The Campbells "Conquest or keip thingis conquest."
The Dugald McLaurin of Ardveich, Strathearn legend
Account of the murder of John Stewart, Lord Lorne
Appin Land Transfers
Islemen invade Duror and Appin
V’Prior or McVicars son of the clergy
16th century Campbell of Glenorchy’s Clanlaurane or ‘Ganglaurane’
M’Olchallum (Slaves of Jesus) V’Laurene first arrive in Balquhidder
Patersons or V’Tatricks
Vicar Johannis McLauren of Balquhidder murdered
Balquhidder McLaurins massacred, maybe?
8 November 1559 Clanlaurane homage transferred from Earl of Argyll
21 November 1559 Alexander McLaurane and others Bond
A different calendar year before 1600
Balquhidder MacGregors bind themselves to Campbell Glenurchy
Balquhidder V’Laurane men give Bond to Campbell of Glenurchy
1561 Clan Lawren in its entirety accept Campbell of Glenurchy
McLaurin sept Clann MacGille-Cheallaich MacGregor
1563 Kill all MacGregors
Clan MacIntyre Transfers Homage to Campbell of Glenurchy
John Stewart 5th of Appin signs Bond of Manrent with Campbell of Glenurchy
One hundred thirteen men of ClanLawren endorse Campbell of Glenurchy
“The Roll of the Clannis”
Johne M'Olcallum murdered by the Stewarts of Glenbuckie
1594 Bond by Loch Tay, Patrick Mcconill Wiklawrent to Campbell
In 1606 the M’Olcallum V’Laurane sign their last Bond to Campbell
Clan Laurin Servitors in Campbell of Glenurchy Records
Duke of Atholl’s Feudal system gradually replaces Campbell Clan Syatem
Archibald M'Ilvoyll M'Lowrin from Glencoe caught with MacGregors in 1611
Theft - Slaughter - Fire=raising - Oppression, & c. 1613
The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland...
1638 Lairds of Glenurchy Rollis of Able Men with their Armis
The Civil Wars
A Decree against Clan Gregor men dated 1649 includes McLarens
17th century Atholl Vassals
John McLaren killed
The Battle of Killiekrankie or Roinn Rhuari
1699 Appin McLaurins
18th century Atholl Vassals
1713 McLaren piper to the Duke of Atholl
McLaurins and Stewarts in the 1715 Rebellion
Rob Roy MacGregor
Traditions of the Stewarts of Appin
A second account from the Dewar Manuscripts
Charles Stewart of Ardshiel
Donald MacLaren of MacLaren attempts to exhume ‘Rob Roy’
Fergusons of Auchleskine, Balquhidder
McLaurins in the 1745/46 Jacobite Rebellion
Balquhidder MacLaren Rebels
The Kirkton Meeting
The Kirkton Muster
Donald McLaren of East Invernenty correspondence
Post Culloden Balquhidder
Balquhidder McLarens in the Jacobite Army
Stewart of Appin Clan Regiment Order Book
Mr. McLaurin’s Journal
Appin McLaurin Rebels, who survived and where they came from
Post Culloden Invernayhle’s List of Casualties
Post Culloden, Appin’s List
Campbell of Stonefield, The Appin Regiment List
Appin Culloden Survivors
Morag McLaurin Kidnapped and Sold
Leckine Burial Ground, The actual McLaren Cemetery
December 17 1774, Neil McLaren from Ballmachelican murdered
John MacLaurin, Lord Dreghorn, Clan Chief, Humanitarian, 1734 - 1796
Joseph Knight slave case heard in 1778
1781 Chief of the McLaurins
Moir NcGunan, 1685
Donald McLaurin, 1686
John Dow McClaurine, 1693
John McClaurin, 1694
John McLaurin in Corriblickag in Glencrenn, 1725
Rev. John McLaurin, Kilmodan 1698
Niccoll McLaren, 1685
Janet NcLauchlan late spouse of Donald McLaren, 1686
John McLaren, 1688
Patrick McLaren, 1688
Rob Roy MacGregor alias Campbell, 1735
Argyll Parish Records
Abbot Labhran of Achtow
Ragman Roll 1296
The Stewarts of Appin add to the McLaren alliance myth
James Logan’s MacLaurin heraldry mistake
The MacLaren motto Creag an Tuirc comes from another error
Finlay McNeil/Neilsoun - Loch Tay
Because of these numerous mistakes
MacLaren Er MacLaverty Genealogy
Medieval McLaurin Genealogy based on the MS:1467
Traditional Scottish Naming Patterns
Coire Bliochdaig, Glen Creran to North Carolina McLaurins Genealogy
Vol II will be about the McLaurin emigrants to North America
Large groups and single families emigrate from Scotland to North America
List of Resources
Coat of Arms of historic Clan Chief John MacLaurin, Lord Dreghorn, 1781 The Shepherd's Staff that of St. Moluag. The Lady with child draped in green an image of the 'Mother Church' on the Isle of Lismore. With Crowned Britons holding Tridents, indicates they were kings of the sea.
Clan Crest Badge with motto
"A lady from the middle upwards ifouing out of the Wreath in her arms a child both proper and habited vert.". Motto translated as "Be Thou the son of the Crook. The 'crook' is the hearth chain holding the cooking pots, a very deep meaning, ie the only chain in the home.
In 1781 John MacLaurin, Lord Dreghorn of Edinburgh, matriculated chiefly arms with this description. “BEARS Argent a Sheepherds Crook Sable, CREST a Lady from the middle upwards ifouing out of the Wreath in her arms a Child both proper and habited Vert, MOTTO Bi'se mac ant' Slaurie, SUPPORTERS two Britons proper Matriculated. Rc Boswell Lyon Dep"
The lady with child in a green habit is the ‘Mother Church and children’
John McLaurin’s "Sheepherds Crook Sable" is a reference St Moluag’s Crozier” on the Isle of Lismore. Heraldsnet.org more accurate description "a bishop's crook in pale sable--M'LAURIN, Dreghorn", eludes to his ancestor Laurence de Ergadia on Lismore circa 1300, as the Keeper of St. Moluag’s Crook.
John MacLaurin was well versed in family history, his father Colin MacLaurin, had hand delivered to the Advocate Library in Edinburgh, what is known today as MS:1467, which he had collected that contained his ancestors genealogy “Clann an Aba Uaine”, ‘the Children of the Green Abbot’.
"Mr. MacLaurin presented to the Society from the Reverend Mr. Malcolme an old Irish Manuscript ", "This is a clear description of the 1467 ms," Ronald Black, 2011
John’s direct lineage contained a long line of Protestant Reverands from the University of Glasgow. My ancestors were the Episcopalian cattle droving Jacobite sympathetic Appin and Ardchattan McLaurin cousins.
Seventeenth century testaments in the National Records of Scotland and other legal documents including John’s matriculation, link these contradictory McLaurin families who fought against each other during the siege of Edinburgh in 1745. Colin MacLaurin a volunteer cannoneer aiming at the invading twenty-seven Appin McLearans in the Stewart of Appin Clan Regiment.
Let me be perfectly clear, the well known story of the Clan MacLaren origin being in medieval Strathearn, is complete rubbish. There is not a single historical record to support that narrative which originated with 19th century writers, I won’t describe them as historians. This decades ago discredited fiction is still doled out by the current McLaren clan chief and his society courtesans, inducing the innocent casual enthusiast to visit Balquhidder “the clans homeland.”
"a perversion which, by its persistence, wide publicity, and the high position of the parties interested, ultimately became accepted as the actual truth." Alex. K. Stewart, of Achnacone. Appin, Feb. 14th, 1905.
They are perfectly aware of the truth, but they are determined to continue the scam to preserve a clan chief’s family legacy and his followers ‘posing’ as highland heroes hobby. This heavily bankrolled by Americans activity extreme to the point of desecrating Culloden with the name “MacLaren” carved into the Appin Regiment Marker on the battlefield where thirteen Appin McLaurins were killed and then two years later in 2009 attempting to exhume Rob Roy MacGregor’s body from the Balquhidder kirkyard.
The following is the real story.
The McLaurin family territory of Lorn was divided in 1470. The Lordship of Lorne where the McLaurin ecclesiastical families had lived for centuries, was divided by Colin M’Gilleasbaig M’Conochy Campbell, first Earl of Argyll between Dougal M’Iain M’ Robert Stewart of Appin I and Colin M’Conochy Campbell of Glenorchy I, this declaration, divided the family Labhruinn's territory and eliminated many of the MacDougal holdings in Appin and parts of Ardchattan.
In the early and mid 1500's many McLaurin families were induced to move into Perthshire, with most living on the Tay River from Strathfillan then northeast to Atholl. A few families were placed in Balquhidder by the Glenorchy Campbells.
It was Grey Colin Campbell of Glenurchy who first assigned the Makolcallums’ as part of the kin-group he described as V’Lauranes in a 1559 Bond of Manrent. Because of Glenorchy, we have a fairly complete four generation genealogy of McLaurin men contained in three Clanlawren Bonds of Manrent. The 1559 bond contains the descendants of the first McLaurins to arrive in Balquhidder in 1512 and perhaps Malcum M’Olchallum one of the three sons.
First McLaren arrives in Balquhidder in 1512. Malcolm M’Olcallum V’Laurane settled at Invernenty, Balquhidder in 1512 along with four MacIntires who are also from Lorn. It appears that Malcolm Maklawryn and Gilbert Makyntyr are paying a reduced rate for the woodlands which other tenants have the right to use without destruction. A forest conservation program in place by the Campbells. The Clann Dubhghaill Cheire MacGregour’s also lived at Invernenty and nearby Drumlich, the two families would intermarry frequently, but there were problems, the MacGregors attempted to displace Invernenty MacLaurins with violence and perhaps were successful in the 1550s. Resulting in the Coule Keir MacGregors required to sign a Bond of Calpes to Campbell of Glenurchy in 1559 as punishment.
At Stirling, on the first of June in the 512th year [ie 1512]. Innernenty; £6 13s 4d, with the consent of William Stewart who had the same in fee-farm, is now assessed to the underwritten tenants just as is particularized above, that is to say,
To Donald Makyntyr, £5 for two marklands and a half, to be paid in respect thereof annually, with part of the marts,
To John Makyntyr, £5 for two marklands and a half, to be paid in respect thereof annually, with part of the marts,
To Gilbert Makyntyr, £5 for two marklands and a half, to be paid in respect thereof annually, with part of the marts,
To Duncan Makyntyr, 1s for one markland and a 40 shillings land, to be paid in respect thereof annually, with part of the marts,
And to Malcolm Maklawryn, 1s for one markland and a 40 shillings land, With this condition, that the rest of the tenants of the Lord of Buchquhiddir shall have licence to take timber for their necessities, without destruction [of the woodland], And for entry of a new infeudation £40, out of which sum £13 6s 8d is to be paid by the said tenants, and £26 13s 4d by the said William Stewart. (transcribed from Rotuli scaccarii Regum Scotorum Vol. VIII, Pg. 638)
It appears that Malcolm Maklawryn and Gilbert Makyntyr are paying a reduced rate for the woodlands which other tenants have the right to use without destruction. A forest conservation program in place by the Campbells.
Malcolm’s son Malcolm M’Olcallum elder and grandsons (with the same names of course) are in the 1559 bond, with their great grandsons in a 1606 bond to Campbell of Glenurchy, which gives us where they lived. In the 1559 Bond, there are six other family groups of V’Laurane the MacPatricks, the MacAllens, the MacDougalls, the MacEwens, the MacDuncans and the MacJohns, with John the servant of Cristine the last of name are all the clan MacLaurin. You can track the names, in the three bonds, most names contain three generations such as Nicoll M'Ane VTatrick Moir (Nicol son of John son of big Patrick) in the 1573 ClanLawren Bond to Glenurchy. The Balquhidder MacLaurin history is for another time.
8 November 1559 Clanlaurane homage transferred. This very important legal document pertaining to Clanlaurane and the only one written in the royal burgh of Sterling, on 8 Nov 1559 confirms that several McLaurane families from Kilmartin Parish south of Loch Etive in Argyll, had moved into Perthshire. Two weeks later on 21 November 1559 at Balloch on Loch Tay in Perthshire, Alexander McLaurane and his followers from Kilmartin parish gave their Bond to Colyne Campbell of Glenurchy. This document is one of two, that directly contradicts the legend that McLarens had been in Perthshire since the time of Kenneth McAlpine, it also eliminates any notion of a Strathearn origin for Clanlaurane before the early 1500’s.
“WE Archibald Erie of Ergyle . . . grantis ws to haif gevin ... To our traist cousyng Colyne Campbell of Glenurquhay and his allis male the manrent homage and sendee quhilk our predecessouris andwe had and hes of the haill kyn and surname of the Clanlaurane and their posterite togidder with the uptaking of thair calpis . . . Prowyding the said Colyne obtene . . . thair consent . . . thairunto . . .
In witnes of the quhilk thyng to thir presentis subscriuit with our hand our propir seill is affixt at the burgh of Sterueling the aucht day of Nouember the yeir of God M v and fifty nyn yeiris befoir thir witnes Johne Campbell off Inuerlevir Johne Corswell persone of Kilmartyne and Andro Quhit. And this we gif for the gud and faythfull sendee that the said Colyne hes done to ws. ARD. ERGYLL.” Black Book of Taymouth
In the 18th century many of the indigenous Appin McLaurins that had remained in the original homeland, along with related Livingstones, MacKenzies, MacDougalls, MacColls and Stewarts, including a handful of "Culloden Veterans" emigrated to Richmond County, North Carolina in 1790 where they flourished. North and South Carolina where there are more Scots living today than in Scotland itself.
McLaurin, MacLaurin, McLaren, McLerran, McLarran, McLarine, McClaren and more are all found in historical and genealogical records for the same persons surname, especially in the United States. This makes research more difficult, compared to researching names Campbell, McDonald, Stewart, McColl or McCall for example. And like Sherry says, "they are all named Hugh".