The Chief

On the Cutting Room Floor

Extended Author’s Note:

:: Confused by the different names used for the MacGregors? So was I. The clan is alternatively referred to as MacGhriogair, Clan MacGregor, Clan Gregor, the Sons of the Wolf, the Children of the Mist (Clann a'Chedd), and the Gregalach (see Walter Scott's "MacGregor's Gathering" quoted in the beginning of Highland Outlaw).

:: Following the death of Alasdair MacGregor of Glenstrae, Clan Gregor rose in rebellion, attacking the lands of Campbell of Glenorchy ("Black" Duncan) whom they blamed for encouraging the Earl of Argyll in the treacherous death of their chief. Clan Gregor sent out the fiery cross across what remained of their lands and attacked Glenorchy's lands, even burning one of his castles. It is estimated that the MacGregors caused losses in the neighborhood of seventy thousand pounds to Glenorchy, which at the time was a fortune.[1]

:: Some claim that the Battle of Glenfruin (or the Field of Lennox as it was known then)—where the Colquhouns were slaughtered by the MacGregors, leading to the MacGregors proscription and ultimate doom—was actually incited by Argyll. Alasdair MacGregor made this claim himself. On his death, Alasdair, who could not write, dictated his final words, laying the blame for Glenfruin at Argyll’s feet.

:: The laws against Clan Gregor were actually enacted over a period of years. The initial “Edict for the Extermination of Clan Gregor”was on February 24, 1603, but other laws followed in 1611, 1613, 1621 and 1627.[2] Some examples: must change name from MacGregor under penalty of death; contrary to the tradition of Highland Hospitality, anyone giving shelter to MacGregors could be put to death (this plays a part in Highland Warrior); anyone who’d taken part in battle of Glenfruin was prohibited from carrying a knife (even one to eat with); and no more than four men could gather together. In addition to the bounty of heads mentioned in both Highland Warrior and Highland Outlaw, bloodhounds were used to hunt down the proscribed clan and were fed on diet of “MacGregor meat.” In addition to death and dispossession of their lands, later penalties included transportation to the Lowlands (or other places) and branding on the faces of women and children with a key.

:: As I mentioned in my author’s note, clan genealogy can be difficult to pin down and is often inconsistent. For example, there are differing accounts of relationship between Gregor and Duncan (my Patrick) to Alasdair MacGregor. Some sources say they were his nephews (sons of the brother killed at Glenfruin) and others say his cousins. I thought the latter more probable. You can see my best attempt at sorting out the family tree here. As you can see Duncan (my Patrick) and Alasdair were indeed cousins twice over: their mothers were sisters and their fathers were brothers.

:: Here is the link to the names of the MacGregors executed after Glenfruin, mentioned in the author’s note to Highland Outlaw.


1. McHardy, Stuart, The Well of Heads And Other Tales of the Scottish Clans, Birlinn Limited, 2005, pg. 101.
2. Ibid, pages 160-161; see also Williams, Ronald, The Heather and the Gale, House of Lochar, 1997, pg. 22.

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