Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Ross Line

Ross Crest

In my blog of 1st August last and subsequently of 19th December I was bold enough to include as possibly the earliest clan Will, that of Farquhar McIntagairt. 'Taggart' is of course an anglicisation of the same Gaelic word behind the last syllable, 'hagga', of our clan name, in Gaelic 'sagairt', meaning 'priest'. In my enthusiasm I thought the 'In' of McIntagairt must have the same derivation as the second syllable of our clan name, 'Il', a shortening of 'ghille'. I now know this is not so and hence I should not have included Farquhar in the Probate Index, however attractive the copy of the original document which adorns one of my paper files which I obtained from the National archives in Edinburgh.

I will in due course remove the Will from the Index but not before I have noted some interesting and relevant medieval facts which just might link in to our history, which are I think, worth a 'blog'. The Farquhar McIntagairt Will originated in Inverness in 1667, in the Northern Highlands of Scotland. I was intrigued recently to receive a copy of an occasional paper called West Highland and Island Notes and Queries (Series 3, No.15, October 2010), edited on the Isle of Coll, which included an article by Andrew B.W. MacEwan entitled Random Thoughts on Sir Farquhar, Earl of Ross. This earl of Ross, aka Farquhar Maccintsagairt (McEwan's transliteration) lived four hundred years before Farquhar who wrote the 1667 Will, ie c.1181 - 1st Feb 1251/2 - he died at Tain - and with etymologically the same name, one Farquhar was conceivably the ancestor of the other.

I quote the Paradox of Medieval Scotland internet site, 'Fearchar, earl of Ross, aka Farquhar MacTaggart... overthrew Alexander II's enemies when they entered Moray in 1215, cutting off their heads and presenting them to the king; as a result Alexander knighted Fearchar'. G.F. Black, in The Surnames of Scotland, points out that Ferchar (sic) was the son of the red priest of Applecross. I presume this is a reference to the colour of his hair. It would of course be super-serendipidous if I could say at this point that I or some other clan member has or had some known relationship to Sir Farquhar, but I can't!

It is however interesting that Sir Farquhar married a girl from the south - the Scottish Borders. We don't know her name but we do know that she was a daughter of William de Bruce, the 3rd Lord of Annandale and Christina Steward the daughter of Walter, the High Steward of Scotland. This is personally of interest to me because I do have a very distant blood relationship to Farquhar's wife and hence to all his offspring - he had two sons and two daughters, five grandchildren, including the last King of Man, and three great grandchildren. The title Earl of Ross descended through the eldest son, through three Williams, a Hugh, then to another William who was the 6th Earl (1310 - 9th Feb 1311/12). It was incidentally the third Earl who chose the above crest for the Earls of Ross.

Hugh, the 5th earl also married a Bruce, Matilda (or Maud, the name MacEwan uses) daughter of Robert the 6th Lord of Annandale and Marjorie, Countess of Carrick (my 20th Great Aunt!). Hugh and Matilda's son William, the 6th earl, married Mary Macdonald (my 17th Great Aunt!). Andrew MacEwan calls Mary the cousin of William. By my reckoning she was his 7th cousin 3 times removed. MacEwan says they were related as grandson of Countess Marjory and great-granddaughter of Affrica, daughter of Neil earl of Carrick (d. 1260).

I have at last reached the really interesting possible link to our clan history. Neil, earl of Carrick, was the son of Duncan the 1st earl of Carrick (1174-1250) whose Steward - he had the title Steward of Carrick - was Gillescop McI(l)haggain. Although in the past I have assumed that McI(l)haggain is a version of our clan name, I have to admit that it could equally be a version of McIntsagairt, the 'aka' name of the Earls of Ross. The Carrick connection may simply indicate that Duncan had employed as his Steward someone who, through the marriages I have mentioned above, was known to him from the Ross line.

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