Friday, April 22, 2011

A Brief Summary on the Children of Donald MacKinnon and Flora MacQuarrie of Rum and West Lake Ainslie, by Eugene Quigley

Donald MacKinnon, born 1794 on Isle of Rum, Scotland.[1] He married Flora MacQuarrie, born 1801 in Scotland,1 (daughter of Malcolm MacQuarrie and Sarah), died Mar 1 1876 at West Lake Ainslie.[2] Donald and Flora settled at West Lake Ainslie in an area locally known as Mason’s Point.
I.       Ann (Nancy) MacKinnon, born 1824 in Isle of Rum, Scotland,[3] died post 1881. The family were all still home in 1881. She married Allan MacDonald, born 1810 in Scotland,3 died post 1881 in Crandall Road, Port Hastings.
II.      Malcolm MacKinnon, born 1826 on Isle of Rum, Scotland,[4] died Sep 19 1893 at West Lake Ainslie,4 buried in St. John's Cemetery, Strathlorne. According to the birth certificate for Malcolm's daughter Christy, he was born at Greenock, Scotland. He married Sarah MacKinnon, Dec 15 1856 at Loch Ban,[5] born Oct 20 1833 at Loch Ban,[6] (daughter of John MacKinnon and Ann MacInnis), died Feb 11 1916 at West Lake Ainslie,[7] buried in St. John's Cemetery, Strathlorne.
III.     Donald "Ban" MacKinnon, born Sep 2 1828 in West Lake Ainslie,6 died Dec 21 1913 in Mason's Point, West Lake Ainslie,[8] buried in Strathlorne.8 He married Ann MacDonald, Dec 18 1862 in Loch Ban,5 born May 24 1839,[9] (daughter of John MacDonald and Flora MacQuarrie), died 1901 - 1913 in Mason's Point, West Lake Ainslie. The 1901 census gives June 15, 1838 as her birthdate.
IV.     Hector MacKinnon, born Nov 1 1830,6 died 1908,4 buried in St. John's Cemetery, Strathlorne. His gravestone suggests he was born in 1831. He married Ann MacKinnon, born Nov 2 1830 in Mount Young,6 died 1921,4 buried in St. John's Cemetery, Strathlorne. Her gravestone suggests she was born in 1832.
V.      John "Tailor" MacKinnon, born Aug 1 1836 at West Lake Ainslie,[10] died Mar 6 1917 at West Lake Ainslie,7 buried in St. John's Cemetery, Strathlorne. He married Margaret MacLean, born Feb 2 1848 at Malagawatch,10 (daughter of Donald MacLean and Flora MacInnis), died May 8 1940 at West Lake Ainslie,[11],7 buried May 10 1940 in St. John's Cemetery, Strathlorne.11
VI.     Jessie MacKinnon, born Feb 1 1836 at West Lake Ainslie.1,[12] Jessie was unmarried. She had one child with Norman MacSwain.
VII.    Alexander (Sandy) MacKinnon Cpt., born Oct 20 1837 at West Lake Ainslie,[13] died Jan 21 1924 at North Lake Ainslie,[14],4 buried Jan 23 1924 in St. John's Cemetery, Strathlorne.14 Alexander was known in Gaelic as "Alasdair Dhomhnull".
         He married (1) Mary MacKinnon, born 1844 at Loch Ban,4 (daughter of John MacKinnon and Ann MacInnis), died Mar 5 1883 at North Lake Ainslie,4 buried in St. John's Cemetery, Strathlorne. Mary died during childbirth. He married (2) Annie MacQuarrie, May 24 1897 at Strathlorne,[15] born May 5 1860 at North Lake Ainslie,13 (daughter of Roderick MacQuarrie and Margaret MacQuarrie), died Dec 23 1928 in North Lake Ainslie,[16] buried Dec 25 1928 in Strathlorne.16 The 1891 census suggests she was born in 1856.
VIII.   Neil MacKinnon, born Nov 1 1840 at West Lake Ainslie,6 died Feb 27 1916 in West Lake Ainslie,[17] buried in St. John's Cemetery, Strathlorne.17 He married Isabella (Bella) MacKinnon, Jul 31 1871 at Whycocomagh,15 born Aug 10 1846 at Loch Ban,6 (daughter of John MacKinnon and Ann MacInnis), died Feb 17 1916 at West Lake Ainslie,[18] buried in St. John's Cemetery, Strathlorne.18 Isabella was still living at West Lake Ainslie in 1916.
IX.     Margaret MacKinnon, born Feb 15 1843 in West Lake Ainslie,1,[19] died May 22 1933 in Point Tupper, Rich. Co,[20] buried May 24 1933 in Port Hastings.20 She married Malcolm MacLean, Nov 11 1880 in Port Hastings,15 born Dec 16 1841 in General Line,19 (son of Lauchlin MacLean and Catherine MacQuarrie), died Apr 2 1911 in Lexington,[21] buried in Port Hastings.21

[1] 1871 Census, West Lake Ainslie, Inverness County, Nova Scotia.
[2] Provincial Death Records for Inverness Co.
[3] 1871 Census, Plaster Cove, Inverness County, Nova Scotia.
[4] Gravestone Inscription.
[5] Provincial Birth Records for Inverness Co.
[6] 1901 Census, West Lake Ainslie, Inv. Co.
[7] Writings of Dan Fred MacKinnon, late, of West Lake Ainslie, Inv. Co.
[8] Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics (
[9] Rev. Donald MacDonald, Record of the Congregation of St. John's Presbyterian Church, Strathlorne, Inverness County (April 1894 to 1906).
[10] Miscellaneous Family Records from St. John's United Church, Strathlorne from the late 1930's and early 1940's.
[11] Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics (, Year: 1940 - Book: 180 - Page: 577.
[12] 1901 Census of Port Hastings, Inv. Co. Fam. 6.
[13] 1901 Census, Strathlorne, Inv. Co.
[14] Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics (, Year: 1924 - Book: 90 - Page: 747.
[15] Provincial Marriage Records for Inverness Co.
[16] Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics (, Year: 1928 - Book: 125 - Page: 517.
[17] Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics (, Year: 1916 - Book: 37 - Page: 295 - Number: 721.
[18] Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics (, Year: 1916 - Book: 37 - Page: 281 - Number: 660.
[19] 1901 Census of Port Hastings, Inv. Co. Family 158.
[20] Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics (, Year: 1933 - Book: 130 - Page: 898.
[21] Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics (, Year: 1911 - Book: 11 - Page: 151 - Number: 1097.

Genealogical Inquiry and Information from Donald Acton

Donald Acton kindly gave me permission to republish an email that he sent us late last month, and it is full of valuable genealogical information.  If anyone has any questions or information to add please send an email to the webmaster, and I will pass them along.

Your website is of interest to me for reasons which will become obvious as I proceed. Before I do so, I would like to commend you for the tremendous amount of work in producing the website, not to forget the endless time that the research must involve.

So, who am I? My mother was a McKinnon. Her grandfather, Lauchlan McKinnon, was born at Lake Ainslee in Inverness County, N.S. in 1824. Lauchlan is the eldest, known to me, child of John McKinnon and Elizabeth McKay.  John married Elizabeth Isabel McKay, but it is not known to me whether this occurred before or after he reached Lake Ainslie. There are six children known to be born to this marriage at Lake Ainslie; Lauchlan (b. Dec. 1824), Hector (b.Oct.1827), James (b. Nov. 1833), Alexander (b. Apr. 1836), Mary (b. Feb. 1838 and Catherine (b. 1841). Lauchlan, the eldest known child, married Isobella McGregor and to them were born two sons (John Lauchlin in 1848, and Gregor, in  1849) before the entire family referred to above moved to Bruce County in Ontario in 1851.

So, who was John McKinnon and who were his ancestors? From marriage records of his children, I know that John was born in Scotland. Census records in Bruce County of Ontario suggest his birth to be in the late 1790s. His obituary, as follows, would place his birth closer to 1795."Lucknow Sentinel, Friday January 20, 1888, page 8. Passed Away. John McKinnon, father of Alexander McKinnon, of this town passed away peacefully at Langside on Monday last. Deceased had seen the snows of many winters, having lived to the good old age 92. His boyhood was passed in years fraught with might moment to the world's history, and in his long lifetime he endured many crosses and losses, but which he bore manfully. He was a very devout man, upright in all his ways, God-fearing and God loving. He was interred in Culross cemetery on Thursday last."

There is a close match for this birth in the Old Parish Registers, as follows:"OPR Reference 551.2/2. Parish of Tiree, Island of Coll, Frame 24, April 29, 1795 Neil McKinnon and Marion McNeill , Grishipol, a son John" . 

To know that John was born on Coll would add confidence to linking John McKinnon in the obituary to John McKinnon in the OPR. The History of Inverness County makes reference to a John McKinnon as follows: "In the year 1828 Allan McLeal bought a farm on Ainslie Point from John McKinnon. John had previously bought this land from the original settler Mr. Norman McLeod." and on pg 341. "John McKinnon from Cull, Scotland was the next neighbour to the immigrant, Roderick McLean. After spending some years at Loch Ban, Mr. McKinnon decided to try his fortune in Upper Canada. He therefore sold his farm to Angus Kennedy, son of Red John Kennedy of Broad Cove Marsh, who spent the remaining years of his life there. (Index to Deeds and Grant Books, Inverness Co. N.S. Film # 1888973. Angus Kennedy, had the lot granted to him by the crown in 1859. The grant is in Book "A" pg 337). These references link a John McKinnon from Coll to a John McKinnon that moved to Ontario about 1851 and help to substantiate the assumption that the John McKinnon in the obituary was one and the same as the John McKinnon in the OPR. The N.S. Miscellaneous Land Papers 1820-1864 Film #1378407 provide some insight into when John McKinnon emigrated: "The name John McKinnon is mentioned 3 times. The first in 1820, as receiving a settlers ticket at Sydney C.B. The next time was in 1822 signing a petition for land. The third was in 1836, when he wrote a letter to the governor in support of a neighbour who had been burned out. And the 1841 Census Township of Ainslie Eastern Half : Record 131 Film 5220. There is a family of John McKinnon not far from Donald McGregor, Duncan McGregor and Gregor McGregor. John's family consisted of: 2 girls under 6 years; 2 boys under 14 years; 2 boys over 14 years; 1 girl over 14 years; With John the family has eight members.  While the census does not agree perfectly with children referred to above, there is close enough agreement to consider a positive relationship between these two families. Also, the marriage of Lauchlan to Isabell McGregor, possibly a neighbourhood girl, is suggestive of a positive relationship.

To make a long story short, my best position on John McKinnon is that he was born in Grishipoll, Coll in April 1795, the son of Neil McKinnon and Marian McNeil. However, I have some reservation on this assessment. First, the name "Neil" does not appear in descendants of John McKinnon. There is always the possibility that John did have a son named Neil, presumably his eldest son, who is unknown to me for several possible reasons. The second reason, and this relates to your ancestry. In a letter in 1980, Charles McKinnon from Sudbury, whom you refer to, suggested to me  that my McKinnon line descended from Charles L. son of Alan as presented in Hugh MacDonald's book. At that time, I did not know that John was the father of Lauchlan (b. 1825). Unfortunately, Charles died before I could pursue matters further. If there is a link between "my" John McKinnon and those presented by MacDonald it may be that John was a cousin of Archibald (b. 1784), Ailean Ban (b. 1786) and Anne. My current attempt to trace ancestry of John is based on the assumption that he was, indeed, born in Coll to Neil McKinnon and Marian McNeil in 1795. Neil McKinnon was born 9 May 1769 at Essay, Tobermory, Isle of Mull. He married Marian McNeill 3 Dec. 1789 at Coll. Neill and Marian had four children, all born on Coll: Donald (b.Sept.1790), Kate (b. Jul.1793), and John and Margaret (b.Apr. 1795). Neil's parents were Neil McKinnon and Mary McGillivray. I can find no further record of John's siblings, parents or grandparents.

I would be most appreciative if you or some in your group could further enlighten me on my McKinnon ancestors.

Donald Acton"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy Tartan Day!

April 6th is a day of celebration of all things Scottish, and in particular Scottish Heritage.  Officially recognized by the government of Canada late last year, Tartan Day continues to spread and gain recognition throughout the world.

The day of April 6th was chosen to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, 691 years ago today.  In honour of this occasion I've taken the liberty of quoting from one of the Declaration's more famous lines:

"Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom -- for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself."

If you would like to read the declaration of Arbroath in full, please click here.  If instead you would prefer to see it in its original Latin, click here instead.

Alba gu brĂ th!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ancestral Notes by Colin MacKinnon

Ancestral Notes - The MacKinnons of the Isle of Muck,
Inner Hebrides, Scotland
Colin MacKinnon, Sackville, N.B., Canada

The following account of “Ancestral Notes” is attributed to Alexander MacKinnon (1848 - 1927) of Georgetown, Prince Edward Island.  These were given to me by Archibald Forbes MacKinnon (Sudbury, Ontario) in the early 1980’s; shortly before his passing.  I do not know where the original of this document resides.  This is the earliest account of my direct ancestry and has broad links to the Protestant MacKinnons around Lake Ainslie, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  My direct great great grandfather was Hector MacKinnon Sr., the son of Duncan MacKinnon and Mary MacKinnon from the Isle of Canna, Scotland.  Hector Sr. immigrated to Cape Beton on the the ship “Harmony (Dove of Harmony) in 1826.  He married Anne MacLean, daughter of Malcom MacLean, and they had one son named Hector (1831-1910) after his father.  According to tradition, the father died shortly after, around 1833, trying to save a drowning friend in Lake Ainslie.  The widow Anne remarried Hector MacDougall and she is buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery at East Lake.

I have added footnotes {#} to the “Ancestral Notes” for clarification or where questions arise.  There is also following a short extract from the “Census of the Small Isles, 1764-1765, by Neill McNeill Catechist” that is most interesting as it list an Archibald MacKinnon (age 54) as “convert”.  This corresponds with the story in “Ancestral Notes” and places our “Archibald MacKinnon” in time and place.  I would appreciate any additional information pertaining to this family. 

Ancestral Notes

Attributed to:

ALEXANDER MACKINNON (b:1848 - d:1927)

Gillie Callum MacKinnon {#1}, of the MacKinnons of the Isles, lived about 1670 - 1700.  He was a Roman Catholic and the father of a family of four or five boys and some daughters.  His son, Archie, also a R.C. married a Protestant woman, of whom the tradition that has come down to us reports was of exceptional gifts and graces.  The union proved according to the story a mutually happy one.  They agreed before hand that neither one would in any way tamper with the other's religious views, and that both would worship together alternately, one Sunday in the Catholic Church, and the next in the Protestant Church.  And according to this rule they lived happily for several years.  But the priest did not approve of the union nor of the worshipping arrangement and made repeated allusions to the matter from the pulpit, until at last Archie becoming offended, one day got up and said to the priest that he would have no more occasion to declaim about him and walked out of the Church with his wife and children.  He embraced the Protestant religion and thus becomes the ancestor of the Protestant branch of the MacKinnon family.  He was the father of five sons and two daughters whose names we know, viz:
1.John (Rouah){#2} who married Sarah, daughter of Angus MacKinnon MacMillan (below) and was the father of Neil - the father of Charles MacKinnon (Fiddler), and Effy of Hay River; of Archie (Rouah) father of Alexander, married to our aunt Ana MacKinnon.
2.Archie (Og) {#3} - father of Lauchlin (Bann), Ainslie Glen, and of Neil (Bann), Loddy's father.
3.Donald {#4} - father of Archie MacKinnon, (Gillespic Macdhoniel) Out - Let.
4.Neil {#5} - father of Allan (Bann) Archie, Donald, Ann.
5.Duncan {#6} - our grandfather, and father of four sons and four daughters.  The sons were, one who died of small pox in the old country; Alexander {#6a}, our father; Lauchlin, and Donald.  The girls were Christie, wife of Neil MacLean, Hector's son, uncle of the late John MacLean, Indian Rear, who did not come out to America with the rest of the family, but moved to the mainland of Scotland and remained and died there.  Of their family we know little.  Kate, the second daughter after coming to Cape Breton having made an unfortunate marriage, moved to Pictou, where she died of old age.  Ann, already referred to, married Alexander MacKinnon, Rear Outlet, died also in old age, survived by one daughter Flora, wife of Lauchlin MacKay, Post, Outlet.  Another daughter was the wife of the late Peter MacKay, Ainslie Glen.  And another daughter was also the wife of my uncle, Late Neil MacKay, of Big Baddeck.  She died leaving two sons, John and Duncan.
6.Flora MacKinnon {#7}, one of the daughters of Archie Mac Gillie Callum was married to one Angus MacMillan, the father of Donald who moved to New Zealand with his family some 43 years ago and of Archie and Neil of Upper Baddeck.  A daughter Ann, married John MacKay, parents of my mother and uncles Neil and Duncan of Upper Baddeck.  Lauchlin MacMillan a brother of said Angus was the father of Malcolm, Duncan, Donald (Turner) Donald (Mor) Angus, and some sisters; one - the mother of Donald MacKinnon Hugh, Alexander, and Allen of Mount Young; and of Neil (Tai) and Ann, D. MacLean's B.D.'s wife, Whycocomah.
7.Una, or Hannah, MacKinnon {#8}, another daughter of Archie's a woman of renown amongst her descendants, was married to one Alexander MacLean, who became the parents of Mary, my father's mother; and father. of Malcolm MacLean, Out-Let; of Lauchlin (Donald Bann's) John MacLean (Sergeant) Rear Port Hastings and of dear old Grannie MacQuarrie of Christly memory, of Ainslie Glen, and of Murdock (Big) father of Angus, John Neil, Mary, also Allan (Carpenter) father of Malcom (Rouah) Donald, John, Neil, and Flora.

Other Descendants.

John MacKinnon (Rouah's) daughter Mary was married to one Duncan MacKinnon {#9}, of Canna, a R.C. the father of Hector MacKinnon, who married Ann MacLean, a daughter of Malcolm MacLean, Out-Let.  Hector was drowned in Lake Ainslie soon after, about the year 1833, leaving one son, named after himself.  The widow later married Hector MacDougall, by whom she had a large family.  The above couple Duncan and Mary MacKinnon. were the parents also of John (Macdoanach Lachlan) of New Canada, R.C. who was the father of Duncan MacKinnon also of New Canada.
The other brothers and sisters of Archie MacIllie Callum remained in the R.C. Church and their descendants are the MacKinnons of Antigonish {#10}, etc.  While the descendants of our progenitor settled mainly in Cape Breton.  But descendants of both branches of the family are now widely scattered the world over.             

Comments on "Ancestral Notes" by Colin MacKinnon, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada,

1.   I can find no trace of this "Gillie Callum MacKinnon.  In H.N. MacDonald's "MacDonald and MacKinnon families" he gives a different ancestry??  Supposedly the Muck MacKinnons came from the Isle of Skye where MacLeod of Rassay was referred to as “Mac Gillie Callum”. I suppose it is possible that the MacKinnon “Gillie Callum” had some association with the MacLeods?
2.   The daughter of John Rouadh married Duncan MacKinnon (see #9 below) of Canna Scotland.  Their son Hector (my great-great grandfather) immigrated to Cape Breton in ca. 1826 on the ship "Harmony" (also called “The Dove of Harmony”).  Hector met Ann MacLean (daughter of Malcolm MacLean, see #8 below) on the ship and was married shortly after landing.  They had a son also named Hector (photo follows) who eventually settled in Sackville, N.B. where I now live.
3.   Archibald was known as "Gillesbuig Og".  His son Neil "Niall Ban" MacKinnon "of Portree" apparently died in Scotland, however, his wife Jane "Jean" (Cameron) MacKinnon and her two sons and three daughters immigrated to Cape Breton, possibly in 1828 on the ship St Lawrence (see History of Inverness County, J.L. MacDougall). 
4.   Donald MacKinnon's son, Archibald MacKinnon, immigrated from the Isle of Eigg ca. 1840 to Nova Scotia.
5.   Neil MacKinnon had four children.  His three sons immigrated from the Isle of Muck to Nova Scotia ca. 1820.  One of Neil's sons was Capt. Allan "Ailean Ban" MacKinnon.  Capt. Allan reportedly sailed a vessel owned by MacKinnon of Corry, Skye (Fear a Chorry) (see H.N MacDonald, p.19).
6.   Duncan MacKinnon (b:1765 - d:ca.1837).  His family immigrated from the Isle of Muck.  John or Alexander MacKinnon, the writer of these "ancestral notes" are grandsons of Duncan MacKinnon.
6a. John and Alexander (writer of ancestral notes) were brothers.  Their parents were Alexander (b:1797 - d:31 May, 1874) and Mary (MacKay) MacKinnon from the Isle of Muck, Scotland from where they immigrated to Canada
7.   Flora MacKinnon married Angus MacMillan.  I believe these are the MacMillan’s in "History if Inverness County", p.511.
8.   Hannah MacKinnon married Alexander MacLean.  The MacLeans of Footcape, Cape Breton are descendants (History of Inverness, p.336).  Their son Malcolm MacLean is believed to be the same as in #2 above.  A large group of this family from the Isle of Rum (Protestant) are believed to have immigrated on the ship "Harmony" to Nova Scotia in 1826.  
9.   See #2 above.  Duncan MacKinnon had a brother known as Iain mac Dhonnachadh Lachlan so Duncan's father would have been Lachlan MacKinnon. 
10. Apparently Father Colin Francis MacKinnon, founder of St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish talked about his protestant relations in Cape Breton (Lake Ainslie area).  I have not seen any data to confirm this statement.

H.N. MacDonald in "MacDonald and MacKinnon families" states that his family are descendants from the family of Charles (mac Thearlach Og) MacKinnon, father of Lauchlan MacKinnon the "Skye Bard"; they are not descendants of the "bard" directly.  H.N. MacDonald (1937) gives his ancestry as follows: H.N. MacDonald (b:21 Aug., 1856), son of Breadalbane (MacKinnon) MacDonald, daughter of Capt. Allan "Aillean Ban" MacKinnon, son of Neil, son of John of the MacKinnon's of Strath (same family as "Skye Bard").  Neil MacKinnon in H.N. MacDonald's account is the same Neil as {#5} above.  The problem is that" ancestral notes" gives Neil's father as "Archibald" while H.N. MacDonald gives Neil's father as John?

Extract from: Census of the Small Isles, 1764-1765, by Neill McNeill Catechist

Family No. 17 – Isle of Muck -Protestant

~ Date of Birth
Archibald McKinnon (convert)
Anna McGuary – his wife
John McKinnon – his son
Donald McKinnon – his son
Neill McKinnon – his son
Marion McKinnon – his daughter
Flora McKinnon – his daughter
Duncan McKinnon – his son
Marion McLean - widow
c. 1689

Hector MacKinnon

Tobermory 21 July 1826

Malcolm Macquary passenger on board the Harmony
from the Island of Rum to America has paid to me
the sum of Twenty eight pounds 13/6 st in full of
the price of Provisions  furnished to him and his
family for that voyage; the Tonnage freight having
been paid by Hugh McLean Esq. younger of Coll
Arch. M. Niven agent
For Emigrants

That the Bearer hereof Donald MacKinnon a
Married man is a native of this Parish; that during
His residence in it he and his wife always main-
tained an irreproachable character.  Is attested in
the Island of Rum, Parish of Small Isles this 14th day
of July 1826 by –            Alex. MacLeod Min.


Eugene Quigley writes:  "The two certificates that he has posted were last in the possession of Marjorie MacKinnon, of the East Lake Ainslie MacKinnons. Marjorie was for a number of years in a manor in the village of Inverness  until she passed away in 2009. Her husband was Dan Fred MacKinnon (1910-1989) of West Lake Ainslie. His great great grandparents were Donald MacKinnon (1794 – aft 1871) & Flora MacQuarrie (1801 – 1876) from the Isle of Rum. I believe the first certificate refers to Flora’s brother or perhaps father and the second certificate refers to Donald born in 1794. Unfortunately I have not been able to identify the Malcolm MacQuarrie in any records but he may have settled in mainland Nova scotia and not Cape Breton."

If you have any questions or comments about this post, or have any information that you would like to add, please contact the webmaster.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Highland Revenge - An Ancient MacKinnon Tale

As each generation passes the torch to the next, something is always lost.  Some stories and songs do not get passed down, while others only do so in a garbled form.  It is all the more remarkable then when cultural traditions that are centuries old get passed down well into the present day.  One such story that survives involves conflict between the MacKinnons and the MacLeans on the Isle of Mull.  As far as I have been able to ascertain, it was first collected by noted folklorist Mary MacKellar, and first published in volume VII of the Celtic Magazine in 1882.

(click for full-sized readable version) Highland Revenge, scanned from Vol VII of the Celtic Magazine, 1882.

Though it was collected in 1882, the story still survives today, in both the printed form and the oral tradition.  In each case the story itself has changed, whether because it changed as it was passed down to each generation, or from an independent oral tradition.  In some cases the story changed because secondary authors attempted to put it in their own words, or "correct" it to fit more readily within their own historical narrative.

Occasionally the change is subtle, and has little overall impact on the story itself.  For instance, sometimes the Old woman of the clan becomes a White Witch, and that in turn makes her words more powerful.  Usually when she is referred to as a witch, it is MacKinnon who suggests slaying the MacLeans while they sleep, while she instead suggests the planting of the boughs.

In other situations, even the location of the story is changed.  Rather than being set in the south of Mull, it is instead set in the later MacKinnon lands of Mishnish.  Some versions mention the species of tree that is used,   Scots Pine, one of the traditional plant badges of the MacKinnons.

In the end, the tale is a fascinating glimpse into the past.  Unfortunately the incident is not recorded anywhere outside of the oral tradition.  How much the tale has evolved over the centuries, or what incident it specifically refers to, neither question can be satisfactorily answered without venturing into the realm of the highly speculative.  Certainly there have been later additions and changes, and likewise some part has been lost with each retelling.  Whatever the truth of the matter may be, the tale is a living connection of our shared past.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Robbie Burns! Also a Genealogical Inquiry

Address to a Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak yer place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o' a grace
As lang's my airm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dicht,
An cut you up wi ready slicht,
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like onie ditch;
And then, Oh what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit' hums.

Is there that ower his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
Oh how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if Ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!

For those of you celebrating Burns Night tonight, may you all have a wonderful and exciting night.  Slainte mhath!

The Bard himself

Robbie Burns (or Rabbie Burns if you prefer) if he were still alive would be 252 years young today.  Without a doubt Burns is Scotland's most well known literary icon, and he coined a number of sayings in his poems that entered into the English mainstream.

For those interested in a more unorthodox perspective on the Bard, there is an excellent article that appeared in the May 2009 issue of The Bottle Imp.  Entitled My Bard is in the Highlands, author Michael Newton makes the argument that Robbie Burns is only representative of part of the Scottish diaspora, and that in comparison Gaelic poets have historically been undervalued and receive less attention than they deserve.  It is worth a read, and though it won't make you think any less of Robbie, it will make you want to investigate the some of the Gaelic poetry that our ancestors would have enjoyed.

In other news . . .

I recently received an email from Klee C. Dobra, who was looking for information regarding some ancestors.  Klee writes:

"My second great grandparents, John MacKinnon (b. Aug. 1794) and Isobel MacLean (b. abt. 1798) began their life journey either there [Coll], or near there.  At the close of their Coll living, they were living in the town of Grishipoll.  Several MacKinnons were recorded there, and many apparently remain.  They departed Grishipoll and Coll in 1819 and left for "New Scotland" from Tobermorey (Mull), probably aboard the ship ECONOMY, John and Isobel (their marriage is recorded in the Old Register) and their first born son (Hector, b.  1817) and infant daughter, Margaret (b. 1819).  Both baptisms are also recorded in the Old Register as well. 
John and Isobel farmed in Seafoam, NS for the remainder of their lives and are both buried in the Seafoam Cemetery.  They had ten children, one of whom, John MacKinnon, was my great grandfather.  Among the ten children that he and his wife had, one was Edward, my grandfather.  He, along with my grandmother Alma Elizabeth Chambers MacKinnon came to the USA in the late 1890's, and the rest is history, as they say."

If any of you have information that you can add, particularly about John MacKinnon and Isobel Maclean, please send me an email and I will pass the information along.

Grishipoll has also been added to the Clan MacKinnon map:

View Clan MacKinnon Map in a larger map