MacDougall~Origins of the clan
Clan MacDougall is a Scottish clan traditionally associated with the lands of Argyll and Lorn in Scotland. Like the Clan Donald or MacDonald and all of its MacDonald branches, the MacDougalls are also descended from the King Somerled. The clan takes its name from Dougall, a son of Somerled, who, after his father’s death in 1164, held most of Argyll and also islands such as the Isle of Mull, Lismore, Jura, Tiree, Coll and many others. Likewise the Clan MacDonald of Clan Ranald branch take their name from another of King Somerled’s sons called Ranald and the head Clan Donald take their name from Somerled’s grandson and Ranald’s son who was called Donald.
The Celtic Christian name Dougall, or Dugald, is derived from the Gaelic ‘dubh-gall’, meaning ‘black stranger’. Dougall’s royal descent was acknowledged by the king of Norway, and he styled himself ‘King of the South Isles and Lord of Lorne’. His son, Duncan, and his grandson, Ewan, built castles to defend their dominions, including Dunstaffnage, Dunollie and Duntrune on the mainland, and Aros, Cairnburgh, Dunchonnel and Coeffin on the islands. Dunollie, a craig rising up over seventy feet, was most likely fortified as early as the sixth century and was to become the chief seat. Duncan also built Ardchattan Priory, where the MacDougall chiefs were buried until 1737.
After Haakon IV of Norway had been defeated by the Scottish army at the Battle of Largs in 1263 the Clan MacDougall attacked his fleet. The Norsemen were defeated by the MacDougalls in the sea battle.
Battle of Red Ford, Lorn 1296; Battle between Clan Campbell and Clan MacDougall. This battle took place due to the feud over coastal lands between the two clans. In the late 13th century the rising force on Scotland’s Western Seaboard was the MacDougalls. Controlling the Western mainland was MacDougall’s Dunollie Castle and Dunstaffnage Castle, near Oban in Argyll while their huge fleet of galleys commanded the seas. Many lives were lost on both sides at the Battle of Red Ford which takes its name from the Ford which ran red with blood where the battle took place. Also on the day one of Campbell’s castles on loch Awe was seized by the MacDougalls. The Campbell Chief Cailean Mor Campbell was killed at the battle. His body was carried to the church of St. Peter the Deacon at Kilchrenan on Loch Awe side and buried there. Although the exact burial place is unknown, in 1816 the Duke of Argyll inserted in the gable of the present church, a 14th century gravestone in memory of his ancestor.
Wars of Scottish Independence
The MacDougalls were supporters of William Wallace and King John I of Scotland but were later driven out by supporters of King Robert I of Scotland during the civil wars in Scotland which formed part of the Wars of Scottish Independence. Two years later and Bruce led an army of three thousand men against the MacDougalls. John MacDougall of Lorne set an ambush for them but after a savage engagement the MacDougalls were broken and forced to flee. The MacDougalls lost most of their lands in Argyll which were then passed to the Clan Campbell for their loyalty to the King. However Clan MacDougall fought against Robert the Bruce and the Earl of Atholl at the Battle of Dalry in 1306 where the MacDougalls were victorious. However the victorious MacDougalls were later defeated when they fought against Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Pass of Brander in 1308.
Alistair MacDougall married the sister of John Comyn of the Comyn, Scotland’s most powerful man. John’s son, the “Red Comyn”, was next in line as King of Scotland after the Balliols. However this was the time when Bruce made his bid for the Crown. Bruce slew the Red Comyn at the altar rails in Dumfries and the MacDougalls entered into the feud which ended in the utter destruction of the Clan Comyn and the loss of the MacDougalls’ islands to Bruce.
15th century & clan conflicts
In 1463 Sir John Stewart was murdered outside of a church just as he was about to marry his MacLaren wife. He was murdered by Alan MacCoul, an ally of the Clan MacDougall. However his murder was avenged in 1468 when the Clan Stuart and Clan MacLaren together defeated the Clan MacDougall at the Battle of Stalc, which took place opposite Castle Stalker.
17th century & Civil War
In the 17th century during the Civil War the Clan MacDougall were generally Royalist and in 1645 chief Alexander MacDougall led five hundred of his men into battle. After the defeat of James Graham the 1st Marquess of Montrose a Covenanting army under David Leslie was sent to Argyll to deal with the royalist sympathisers. When the Stuart monarchy was restored so were the MacDougall lands.
18th century & Jacobite Uprisings
In the 18th century during the Jacobite Risings the Clan MacDougall supported the Jacobite cause in 1715 and fought at the Battle of Sheriffmuir which the Jacobites lost. The MacDougall chief was forced into exile but later returned to Scotland to live as a fugitive. He was pardoned in 1727. His son and next chief, Alexander MacDougall did not take part in the Jacobite Uprisings of 1745 to 1746. Although his brother and some of the clansmen did indeed fight as Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
Castles owned by the MacDougalls have included:
Dunollie Castle, Argyll, Scotland (The current MacDougall clan seat).
Dunstaffnage Castle Once the MacDougall clan seat.
Duntrune Castle Besieged by the rival Clan MacDonald and later taken by the Clan Campbell.
Gylen Castle was destroyed by Covenanters under General Leslie in 1647 during the Civil War.
Castle Stalker Later passed to the Stewarts and then the Clan Campbell.
Dugald, son of Somerled
Dugald Screech and Donnchad of Argyll (died 1237×1248) (and perhaps Uspak), sons of Dugald
Eóghan MacDubhgall, son of Dugald (died 1268×1275)
Alexander of Argyll, son of Eoghan (died 1310×1311), perhaps at Carlisle), married a daughter of John Comyn, driven from Scotland by Robert Bruce and his allies; his sister Mary married Magnus Olafsson, King of Mann and, on Magnus’s death, remarried with Maol Íosa, Mormaer of Strathearn
John of Lorne, son of Alexander (died on pilgrimage to Canterbury, September 1317), enemy of Bruce and Bruce’s ally Angus Óg of Islay, defeated and driven into exile.
Origin of the Name: Mac Dùghall (Gaelic for “Son of Dougall”).
Gaelic Names: MacDhughaill (Surname) & Clann ‘icDhughaill (Collective).
Motto: Buaidh no bàs (Victory or Death).
Plant Badge: Bell Heather.
Animal Symbol: Raven.
Crest: On a chapeau Gules furred Ermine, a dexter arm in armour embowed fessways couped Proper, holding a cross crosslet fitchée erect Gules.
Arms: Quartered in these arms are two ancient royal emblems, the Black Galley of Lorn symbolizing descent from the royal house of the Norse and the lion symbolic of the descent from the Scottish Kings of ancient Dal Riada.