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The MacGregors of Roro

The Macgregors of Roro. pages 413-429 of the Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, Vol XXIV, 18th APRIL, 1901.

The contribution for this evening was entitled "The MacGregors of Roro," and was read by Mr Charles Fergusson, Nairn, from the original manuscript, which was written before 1841 by Dr James Macgregor, 14th of RORO, who died in 1875.


Of the MacGregors of Glenurchay, generally allowed to have been Chiefs of Clan Gregor, and who are known to have had the style of Glenurchay for upwards of four centuries, viz., from about 1004 to about 1440, one of the earliest Cadets was MacGregor of Glenlyon, of which house there appear to have been, if not Nine generations, at least Nine representatives, the last of whom, John Dhu nan Lann, died soon after 1500. After having, on the death of a numerous family of sons, by his Lady, Margaret daughter of Luke Stirling of Keir, and Widow of Sir Colin Campbell of Glenurchay, from 1475 (the time of Sir Colin's death), and his having, as repeated by a respectable genealogist (Buchanan of Auchmar), "no near relatives" disponed his estate, or right of occupancy, to his Lady's Stepson, Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenurchay, who took a Royal Charter of Glenlyon anno 1502, and was King's Tenant, or occupant merely, till that date.

It would appear that the MacGregors of Roro had been, a distinct family for several generations prior to John Dhu nan Lann's death, but after his death, MacGregor of Roro became the representative of that branch of the MacGregors. The first of this family of whom we have any authentic notice of is

I. Gregor, who settled in Roro about the time of his Father's death, 1415. He was married, and said to have had eleven sons. His eldest son was:

II. Duncan Beg MacGregor, known as Donnacha Lienoch, who, according to an Obituary in the Latin Language written after 1531, which had formerly belonged to Sir James MacGregor, Dean of Lismore, and now in the Archives of the Highland Society of Scotland, "died at Rorow 17th February 1477 (or 1475)." He married Elizabeth, daughter of MacNaughton of Dundarawe, or of that Ilk. It may be proper to observe here that this, and marriages of the MacGregors of Roro, are given on the authority of tradition. By his said wife Duncan had several children, among whom were

1st. Gregor, his heir.
2nd. Allaster More, Ancester of the MacGregors of Dunan in Rannoch.
3d. Duncan dhu, Ancestor of the MacGregors of Leragan in Rannoch,
4th. " John Duncanson," so called in the Obituary above mentioned; he died at Bellycht and was buried in Inchadin (Kenmore) on the North side of the Altar, 10th March 1491, and his Widow Katrine Cardy, daughter of the Laird of Foss, was buried in the Church of Dull, before the step of the highest Altar, on 14th August 1493.
5th. Para Rhua na Seichdanan, in Culdarbeg. His son Allaster, and his grandson called Donacha Allaster, were killed by Duncan Breac in Wester Culdar 25th May 1529. Donacha's two sons Allaster and John dhu are mentioned in record P. Seal 13th May 1586. The last Allaster had a son Donald, who was father to Allaster called the Duke, who was very zealous in the interest of the Stewart family in 1715. The Duke had a son Donald, who resided in Glenlyon, and was father to John, who had a numerous family, his eldest son Donald was a Major in the 58th Regiment.

III. Gregor Duncanson is mentioned in the Obituary above referred to as having died at Roro in April 1515 and buried at Killin. By the death of John dhu nan Lann (or of the Spears), the last of the MacGregors of Glenlyon, Gregor became representative of that family. This circumstance appears to be alluded to in the celebrated Song
" MacGregors of Roro whose right was Glenlyon."

Gregor married a daughter of Menzies of Weyme, and had by her a numerous issue, among others

1st. Duncan, his heir.
2nd. James, Ancestor of the Gregories of Netherdaill or Kinairdie, as appears from the Genealogy of that family in the possession of John Gregory, Esq., Advocate, Edinburgh.
3d. John, surnamed Mhallich or Vallich on account of his large Shaggy Eye brows. Ean Mhallich or Vallich died at Tulicheamin 9th February 1523, and was buried in Killin leaving seven sons

1 . Niel, his heir, in Ardennaig.
2. Ewin, mentioned in the Commission (4th Feby 1589).
3. John Roy also mentioned in the Commission (4th Feby 1589).
4. " Duncan MacGregor alias Mac Invallich and now Drummond " 'appears in the record of the Privy Seal 30th August 1603. He was Father of Patrick Drummond, who purchased the Estate of Balhaldie 9th August 1642, who appears in record particular register of Sasines Perthshire 17th August 1617.
5. Donald, mentioned in the Commission see 4 Feby. 1589.
6. Thomas dhu in Cullemat.
7. Robert in Dalcapin, who on the 12th May 1606 got a gift of the escheat of his deceased brother Thomas, Rec. Pri. Sig.

Niel M'Ean Vallich had two sons, Gregor and William. These appear together along with their Uncle Duncan in a Bond given by some of the Principals of the Clan Gregor to the Earl of Argyle, King's Lieutenant, 22d April 1601, as descendants of Duncan Lienoch. Mallet the Poet was a descendant of Ean Vallich, and his original name was Malloch, which had been assumed by some of his tribe on the Proscription of the Name of MacGregor.

IV. Duncan, Succeeded his father, is mentioned in a Proclamation against some of the Clan Gregor 10th January 1563. [1] He is there styled Duncan MacGregor in Roro. He married Miss Macdonald of the family of Keppoch, by whom he had issue

lst. Gregor, his heir.
2nd John dhu More, who was a brave man, and made a conspicuous figure in his time. He died at Edinburgh 28th July 1612.
3d. Allaster Breac, or freckled, had three sons

1. Duncan in Fernay, he was exectuted at Edinburgh 17th February 1604 for having been at the Battle of Glenfroon.
2. John dhu M Allaster breac of Stronfernan, occurs in the records along with his brother Duncan, in 1589 and 1602, as likewise by himself in the Bond given to the Earl of Argyle in 1601, as a descendant of Duncan Lienoch. He was killed by John Campbell brother of Lawers, and his Head presented to the Privy Council in 1611. At the time he was killed he had a Feu of the Lands of Stronfernan from Strowan Robertson. Campbell pursued Strowan before the Council for a 19 years' Lease of MacGregor's Feu, in terms of an Act of Council, which promised such a Tack in favour of the Slayer of any MacGregor who happened to possess any Lands. Strowan was adjudged to pay a Compensation at sight of the Council, and ordered by the Council to eject from Stronfernan the Widow and Bairns of MacGregor with servants and Tenants.

John dhu had several Children, among whom were Donald, Allaster, Gillespick or Archibald. All these are mentioned in the Rec. Pri. Cou. 3d August 1602. Gregor Mac Ean dhu Vc Allaster of Easter Drumnacharrichad, as "Gregor M'Gregor in Gowlarich in Strathdowine," along with "John MacGregor his only lawful son," [got] a Charter from John Earl of Atholl of the Lands of Easter Drumnacharrie in the Earldom of Atholl, Barony of Garth, and Shire of Perth, under the reversion of 3,000 Merks, 28th December 1655; and from, the same Nobleman, a Charter of the Sunny Half of Nether Urquhiclavis (otherwise South Half of Nether Blorish) in the Barony of Garth, and Shire of Perth, to him, and to Christian M'William his spouse, in liferent, and to John MacGregor their son in fee, under reversion of 937 Merks, 1st July 1657 (Particular Register of Sasines, Perthshire, 6th May 1656, and 30th Dec. 1657).

By the said lady, he had an only son, styled of Easter Drumnacharrie, but better known as John MacGregor of Delavorer, who, as "John MacGregor Vc Eanduy Vc Allaster " and "John MacGregor of Delavorer" sold both these impignorated estates to Colonel James Menzies of Culdares 20th May 1694. John MacGregor, fiar of Easter Drumnacharrie, married a daughter of Farquharson of Auchinheyle, and, by her, had several children, among others,
1. Gregor, his eldest son, who had been enfeoffed in Easter Drunmacharric 1st November 1681 (Particular Register of Sasines, Perthshire, 21st November 1681), and with whose consent his father sold this estate as above mentioned. He married Marjory, daughter of Robert Grant of Easter Elchies (marriage Contract 18th January 1681;, who, having been enfeoffe'd in the lands of Drumnacharrie same time as her husband, gave his consent to the sale.

3d. Allaster MacAllaster Vreac is mentioned as one of the principals of the Clan Gregor in 1614, and occurs repeatedly in the records prior to that date. Duncan MacGregor of Roro was succeeded by his eldest son.

V. Gregor Mac Conachy in Roro, who occurs along with his brother, John dhu, in a Commission of Fire and Sword dated 4th February 1589 against a number of the Clan Gregor nominatim for the alleged murder of Drummond of Drummondernoch, one of the under Forresters of Glenartney, who is said to have been very hostile to the MacGregors. Gregor again appears in the record of the Privy Council in February 1592 a Tenant of the Laird of Weyme Menzies. appeal's to have had Roro along with Morinch, Duncrosk, &c., &c., in the Barony of Menzies, before 1520, as his son William is styled Menzies of Roro this year.

Gregor married a daughter of Robertson of Faschoille [Faskalry] in Atholl this Lady had been previously married 1st to Stewart of Appin, to whom she had one son, his heir 2ndly to Campbell of Glenlyon, to whom she had one son, his heir 3rdly to MacGregor of Roro, to whom she had several Children, among whom were
1 . Duncan, his heir.
2. George, who settled in Inverness shire, progenitor of the MacGregors of Raigmore, which family is now represented by Peter MacGregor, Esq., Surgeon to His Majesty King George the Fourth. The Genealogy of the MacGregors of Raigmore is recorded in the Lyon Office, Edinburgh, and dated llth December, 1782.
3. John dhu MacGregor, alias Sinclair, to be mentioned hereafter.

Gregor was succeeded by his eldest son.

VI. Duncan Macgregor alias Gordon of Roro, who, 24th February 1631, granted a Renunciation of the lands of Roro in favour of Duncan Menzies of Comrie ; but Menzies having died without performing his part of the Agreement, MacGregor, 24th April 1633, [2] granted a second renunciation in favour of Alexander Menzies of Comrie, son of Duncan, and, at the same time, took a Wadset of the Mains of Roro in security for 1000 Scots, being the balance due to him of the price of his property at that date which the deeds themselves (which are recorded) bear.
Duncan MacGregor alias Gordon and John dhu MacGregor alias Sinclair, his brother, signed a bond and letter of Slaine, 22d May 1630, whereby they became bound for all the MacGregors of their own House of Roro, to keep the peace with Robert Buchanan of Leny, and his friends, on condition of the latter paying 1300 Merks as an assythment (compensation) for the Slaughter of Patrick and Malcolm sons of Patrick Auloch MacGregor, and Donald son of Duncan Abrach MacGregor, which sum had been agreed upon by Arbiters mutually chosen by the parties.

John dhu Sinclair had eight sons
1. Gregor, who married Margaret, eldest daughter of John M'Nab of MacNab, as appears from their Marriage Contract dated at Kinald 14th September 1655. The Bride's Tocher was 800 merks Scots.
2. Hugh.
3. Alexander.
4. Duncan.
5. Malcolm.
6. John.
7. Donald.
8. Patrick Roy.

Duncan MacGregor alias Gordon of Roro married Catherine, daughter of Duncan Campbell of Glenlyon, by whom he had several Children, amongst others
1. Alexander, his heir.
2. Gregor.

He was succeeded by his eldest son.

VII. Alexander, who was killed at the Battle of Inverlochy, 2d February 1645, and was succeeded by his Brother.

VIII. Gregor MacGregor of Roro, who along with Patrick MacGregor of that Ilk signed a letter of Slaines 5th August 1645 approving of the agreement between the Laird of Leny and Duncan and Gregor sons to Patrick Auloch MacGregor already alluded to. This letter of Slaines and the bond already mentioned with several other original papers referring to a feud between the MaoGregors and Buchanans are in the possession of Francis Hamilton, M.D., linial Chief of the very Ancient Clan of Buchanan which is his paternal surname.

On 25th April 1673 Gregor obtained of Commissary John Campbell of Glendaruel a renewal of the Mortgage Right of the Mains of Roro, the purchase money being the same as in the transaction 1633, viz., 1,000 Scots.

Gregor married a sister of Colonel James Menzies of Culdare. By this lady he had (besides two Daughters, Anne married to John MacGregor linial Ancestor of Sir Evan John Murray MacGregor of MacGregor, Bart., and Mary married to MacDonald of Auchnacoichen) three sons
1. Gregor, his heir.
2. Duncan Roy, to be mentioned in the Sequel.
3. Neil, who is mentioned in a Bond of Cautionary 18th August 1679 and recorded.

IX. Gregor MacGregor alias John Gordon of Roro succeeded his father. He burdened his Estate considerably during the rebellion 1715, by eagerly espousing the cause of the House of Stewart. He married Beatrix, daughter of predecessor of Tullybelton. By her he had a son Duncan, in whose favour he conveyed all his property as contained in the Wadset Right of the same by Disposition dated 14th March 1721 and recorded.

He was succeeded by his son.
X. Duncan MacGregor alias Campbell of Roro, who joined Prince Charles Stewart in 1745, and was in consequence so much empoverished as to be under the necessity of acting in the capacity of Clerk to his relation TullybeIton at Perth. Before leaving the Highlands he borrowed a sum of money from his relation John MacGregor at Lagfearn, and in security deposited the Wadset Right of Roro, which Wadset was paid off by the Earl of Breadalbane, who obtained a renunciation of the Mains of Roro 1st April 1760, signed by Duncan Campbell alias MacGregor and others at Perth, where it is recorded. Duncan married Miss Isabella Foster, and dying llth Septr. 1763, left by her two sons and two daughters

1st. Gregor, who, going abroad, has not been heard of since 12th June, 1744, when he was on board His Majesty's Ship Captain at Spithead bound for India.
2nd. Alexander, who was in the East India Company's Service. He has not been heard of since 26th October 1754.
1st. Daughter Christiana, died unmarried.
2nd. Catharine was married to Donald MacAndrew at Tynaline, to whom she had several children. She died at Perth 4th June 1809.

We now return to Duncan Roy, second son of Gregor No. VIII.

XI. Duncan Roy Macgregor married Ann, daughter of Baron Macdearmed, Craignevie, in Glenlyon, and had by her several sons
1st. John, who died in England without issue.
2nd. Hugh.
3d. Alexander married -- MacNab Breadalbane Lady.
4th. Duncan.
5. Donald.

XII. Hugh, second son of Duncan Roy, married 1st Christian MacGregor (Roro), by whom he had three sons and one daughter, all of whom died unmarried. He married 2dly Christian Lothian, and had by her three sons
1. Donald.
2. John.
3. James, who married in 1795 Janet Mackay, daughter of John Mackay in Clyth, County of Caithness, and purchased the Estate of Fonab in Atholl, 1819.

XIII. Donald MacGregor. married 1st Miss Margaret M’Intyre, sister of the Rev. Dr M'Intyre, minister of Glenurchay, by whom he had one daughter. He married 2dly Janet M 'Donald (Glenlyon), and died in 1821, leaving by her two sons
1. James.
2. Hugh
and several daughters, the eldest of them, Margaret, is married to Mr M'Intyre, Surgeon, Fortingall.

XIV. James MacGregor, Assistant Surgeon, 42d Regiment, [3] and of Fonab, near Pitlochry. James, the doctor, died in 1875.

XV. Hugh, his brother, would succeed; he was known as Eoghann Mor, and died 1880. He had a son John. [4]

XVI. John, who lately had the Banavie Hotel.

The present Laird of Fonab is a son of Margaret, dr. of Donald XIII. and Dr M'Intyre of Fortingall, and he resides in New Zealand or Australia.

At Edinburgh the Ellevint day of Junij the yeir of God Irn vjc threttie three yeirs the renunciation vnder written wes producit be Andw. Darling wreitter in Edinburgh and registrat in the buck's of generall registre or Session appoyntit for Registratioun of saisings reversiounes and vther preittis in the 36 buik thereof and in the lieffs folloiwing conforme to the Act of Parliament maid thairanent in Anno 1617 Quhairof the tennor follows. Be it kend till all men be ther present is lettres Mr Duncan Gordon alias MacGregor in, Cambserich fforsa.mikle as Alexr. Menzieis of Connies Ire his band and obligatioun subscryvet with his hand the day and dait of ther presents is btmdeii and obleist To content and pay to me and vtheris specified in the said band vpoim the provisiounes and conditiounea at lenth specifiet and conteinet thair in, all and haill the Sowme of ane thousand Pundis money glide vsuall of this realm, as principal, togidder with the sowme of ane hundreth Pundis a-s for the annuall of the samen yeirhe sua lang as the said principall sowme remains unpayit togidder with the sowme of Twa hundreth merks money of liquider expenses as the said band and obligatioun mair fullie proportis, and als for vther plea-suris gratitudis and gird deeds done by the said Alexr. Menzies to me befoir and at the tyme of the making heirof. Thairfoir Witt ye, me to ha,ve desponit transferrit freelie renunceit and evergiven, lik as I be thair presents dispones tranferres frielie renouncies quyte clames and over gives fra me my hairs and assegnees and sucoessouries kin and Freindis clanie and kyndnes and right fra, me or ony preceidand or sueceedaaid me to the possessiouii of the Lands of Roro all right tittle entres claimei of right kyndnes propertie possessioun occupatioun setting and using of the saidis landis of Roro with the pertinents by and in the Centre of Glenlyon and Sherrefdome of Perth In and to the person of the said Alexr. Menzies his aires executouris and successouris my onlie cessioneris and a,ssigneyis thereto. And grantis and confess myself lawfullie removit fra the samen and that the said Alexr. his possessioun thairof is lawfull and never sal be oallit nor persuvit by me nor my Aires nor be any otheris quhom I may stop or lett directlie by way of ejectioun spuilzie wrongous intrusioun or any vther maner of way in any tyme heirefter sumand and transferrand the sanien fra me and my saadis aires and all vtheris quhom I may stop or lett as saidis in the persoiie of the said Alexr. Menzies and hig foirsaidis togidder with all richt title entres claime kyndres proppertie or possessioun petitor heritable or possessor quhilk I may predecessouris or successouris haid to the samen landis with the pertenajitis in ony tyme heirefter Surrogattand and substitand thanie in me and my said aires our full richt and place of the samen forever. With power to the said Alexr. Menzies and his foirsaidis to use lett or ocupy sell and dispone the saznen landis as his owne proper Landis and here t age in tyme coining at his pleasuare. And for the saides Alexr. Menzies his better securitie I be their presentis faithfullie bindis and obleist me and my Aires to renew this present dispositioun renunciatioiui and translatioun or quhatsomever rioht I can mak of the foirsaidis landis of Roro sua oft as neidis beis ay and quhill the said Alexander find himself sure in the premisses keep and always the substance above written and now as then and then as now bindes and obleist me and my aires to warrant ther presentis fra the facts and deids of me my saidis foaires or any vtheris quhome I may stop or lett directlie in tyme coming vnder the pane of perjurie and infamie lyke as I obleis me and my Aires to ratifie and approve this renunciatioun in the haill heads clauses Articles and Conditioun above written als oft as we sal be requyrit thairto be the said Alexr. Menzies and his foirsaidis and for the mair securitie I am content and consentis that this presentis be insert and registrant in the buiks of Counsell and Sessioun, to have the strenth of ane decreit of the Lordis thairof interponit thairto with all letteris and executonallis necessar to pass thairon, and the horning to be on an simple chairge of six dayes onlie and for that effect. Coiistitutis My lawfull pror. &c.

In witness quhairof written by Walter Dalgleish Nctar publick, I have subscryvet ther presentis with my hand at Ballich the 25th day of Apryle Im vjc threttie thrie yeirs before ther witness Mongo Campbell fear of Laweris, Archibald Campbell brother german to Sir James Campbell of Laweris knicht, Thomas Mackie and Donald Stalker servitouris to Sir Colin Campbell of Grlenurquhy knight and fewder, I the said Duncan Gordoun declaires heirby that ther presentis sail naywayes behurtfull nor derogative to an fomer renunciation grantit b me to vnqle Duncan Menzies of Comries and his aires of the dait the twentie fourt day of February the yeir of God Im vjc thretteine yeirs, Bot rather in Corroboratioun of the sanien quhilk I have subsoryvet befoir the foirnamet Witnesses Sic Subr. Duncane Gordoun alias MacGregor above iiamet with my hand at the pen led be the notaris vnder subscry vand at my command becaus I cannot wreit myself. Ita est Walterius Dalgleishe Notarius publicus de mandate dicte Duncane Gordoune alias MacGregor scribere nescien et asseruet testenianie mea ItA est Joannes Balvaird connoturicis premisso etiam Scribere demajidate dicti Duncane Gordoune alias MacGregor scribere ut assericit nescien Test manumea M. Campbell witness, Alexander Campbell Witness, Donald Stalker Witness, Thomas Mackie Witness.

[1] * This was the first Act issued against the Clan Gregor.

[2] * Appendix. See page 19 [ms.], Renunciatiom, 1633.

[3] * Here Dr James MacGregor's ms. naturally ends. The rest, in parenthesis, is Mr Ferguson's addition.

[4] I am grateful to Gordon MacGregor for pointing out that Hugh MacGregor of Fonab was unmarried but had a natural son John (of the Lochiel Arms Hotel, Banavie), not Charles as given by Innerhaddon. Gordon's evidence follows:
1. His Will and subsequent inventory following his death in which he states that he bequeathes "all the real and personal property whatsoever and wheresoever I shall die seised or possessed to my natural son John MacGregor of Lochiel Arms, Banavie, by Fort William, Inverness shire, in Scotland, aforesaid, hotelkeeper". See SC49/31/113/pp.35-44.
2. 1881 Census for that Hotel which lists his wife Margaret and numerous children, including one named James V MacGregor, born Glasgow, in 1869. (he appears to be identical to the James Verry MacG, who died in 1952, having married and had issue).
3. Birth certificate of that James Verry MacGregor, who was born at George Square, Glasgow, on 5 January 1869 to John MacGregor and Margaret, daughter of Donald MacFarlane, (married Glasgow, 19th October 1863),
4. Marriage certificate for John and Margaret in which he is stated to be 21 years of age and son of Hugh MacGregor and Janet MacDougal.
5. Hugh death certificate in which he is styled "landed proprietor" and that he was "single" and died at King's Street, Stirling, on 19 October 1880. Death was recorded by Charlotte C. Squires, "his niece".
Following Hugh's death, though, Fonab passed to his nearest lawful heir, his sister, Margaret's son, James Macintyre who disentailed and sold the property.