My Ancestors, My Story

 Scottish Bagpipes
The origins of the pipes in Scotland are uncertain. Some say it was a Roman import. Others believe that the instrument came from Ireland as the result of colonization. Another theory is that they were developed there independently. Historians can only speculate on the origins of the Scottish clans' piob mhor, or great Highland bagpipe, but the Highlanders were the ones to develop the instrument to its fullest extent and make it, both in peace and war, their national instrument. 

As a musical instrument of war, the Great Pipes of the Highlands were without equal, according to historians. The shrill and penetrating notes worked well in the roar and din of battle and pipes could be heard at distances up to 10 miles. Because of the importance of the bagpipes to any Highland army, they were classified as an instrument of war by the Loyalist government during the Highland uprising in the 1700s. After the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745, kilts and bagpipes were outlawed, the pipes being classified as instruments of war. 

When the Black Watch was first formed in 1739, each Company maintained its own individual pipers. Scotland was at that time still Scotland. The Black Watch was formed by the English Hanoverian King, of companies of men from the Highlands to "Watch" the Highlanders Thus the name "Black" - for dark use, and "Watch" - for watching the Highlanders. 

It was not until the Napoleonic wars that drummers were introduced and together with the pipers formed what is now known as the Pipes and Drums of the Black Watch. Throughout the history of the Black Watch, pipers and later the Pipes and Drums have remained an integral part of the Regiments and as such, have played an important part in its victories and battle honors. Pipers were to be seen leading the Black Watch and other Regiments in action many times since their inception. It is no longer unusual to find an American who plays the pipes and, indeed, several units of the American Army and Navy and Air Force have their own pipe bands, and have had for more than 40 years. 

The Black Watch Pipers wear the Royal Stewart tartan, the official tartan of Scotland's Royal Family, an honor bestowed on the Regiment by Queen Victoria in 1889. The Black Watch soldiers and drummers currently wear the Black Watch tartan; an adaptation of the Campbell tartan, brought about because three of their six Generals at the time of its founding were Campbells.

A Scottish Highlander in authentic Highland long kilt. The portion of the kilt hanging down in back is used as a blanket when out in the glens and is pulled over the shoulders to keep out the cold and wet.

The Lands of  my Ancestors, the Carmichaels

In the southern uplands of Lanarkshire, Scotland, are the lands of Carmichael, my ancient ancestral lands where all Carmichaels had their beginning. From that place, the clan has traveled far from their native lands to encompass the globe.

 This photo was taken walking down the gravel road by our cottage at Carmichael

Me near the cottagegate on the Carmichael estates

The surname “Carmichael” was given to the lords of that land by Queen Margaret of Scotland in the 12th century. At that time, a “care” or fortress was established for protection from invasion and a Kirk (church) was built on a high hill overlooking the picturesque countryside. Queen Margaret named the Kirk, St. Michael’s. Combing that name with the “care” for the lands, the clan became known as “Care-Michael” or Carmichael.

Climbing Kirk hill to see the monument where the original Kirk once stood

The view from atop the ancient site of the Kirk on the lands of Carmichael is breathtaking. It seems that in times past, it was significant to locate a church on the highest point of the hill. While researching my g-g-grandparents, both churches I located where Carmichaels had worshiped and were buried, were on the highest hills and not easily accessible. Perhaps they felt closer to God atop a hill. But for whatever reason, the Kirk site was magnificent.

Today, the original Kirk for which my family was named is no longer standing but a monument was erected on the spot where the Kirk once stood. It burned some century ago and was raised. When the new Kirk was erected in the 1700’s, the outside staircase to the balcony was saved and dragged down the slopes to the site of the “new” Kirk.

While visiting the new Carmichael Kirk, the contrast of the new stone building with the old stone staircase was striking. I give credit to whoever voted to locate the new Kirk in the valley so people could get there with greater ease than having to climb that long, high hill in bad weather. Even if you had a horse or carriage, the way to the top was quite arduous. We had to climb to the monument on foot and I wondered how it was accomplished in the earlier centuries. Hearty people, those Scots!

In the Kirk yard with Carmichael grave plots. Note the ancient staircase dragged down the slopes from the original Kirk site and attached to the "new" Kirk. These steps to the balcony were 12th century

Outside in the Kirk-yard are the burying grounds. It was customary to bury close to the Kirk so most churches are dotted with graves. Carmichaels are buried here…so many laid to rest in this ancient land. So much history, so many stories. I wash I knew them all. I will leave mine behind in a land far from our family’s beginnings.

The beautiful stained glass

Even more impressive than the new Kirk whose outside is like so many other stone structures in Scotland, the inside is beautiful. The windows are stained glass depicting Biblical scenes as well as the Carmichael coat of Arms and Carmichael history. The woodwork  is ancient, lovely, and gleaming with polish. The ceiling is like the bottom of a ship turned upside down with timbers naked and exposed. It is quite awesome. The balcony with the ancient outside staircase, is where the Lords of Carmichael sat to view the service and to keep a watchful eye on his people to make certain they were in attendance. Tenants must attend Kirk as well as the family of the day.


My Ancestry


by Dr. Marshall Foster

The nation most responsible for America’s love of freedom is Scotland. The spirit of bravehearts like William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and John Knox still runs deep in the American soul. To understand our best great hope for recovering freedom and prosperity in America today, we must understand the Scottish fight for liberty.

As the 14th century neared, the English King Edward Long Shanks was brutally tyrannizing the Scots and men like William Wallace. Hyper-taxation, land theft, and wholesale murder without trial broke all the rules of Magna Carta and Common Law. Long Shanks even passed laws giving his nobles prima nocta (or first rights of nobles to rape Scottish women on the day of their weddings).

William Wallace raised a citizen army of Scots to throw off English oppression. He became Scotland’s greatest patriot by inspiring his men to fight for liberty based upon their God given rights guaranteed in Magna Carta, Common Law, all rights derived from the Bible. Wallace was eventually defeated and martyred. But in 1314, Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots, picked up the torch of freedom. He defeated the English oppressors at the battle of Bannockburn, obtaining liberty for Scotland for 200 years.

Soon after, the Scots wrote the Declaration of Arbroath. This was the first of their biblically based freedom documents. Their words cry out to us through the ages and inspire millions even today. “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 honors that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”
But over the next 200 years, the power grab by government under the cover of the “divine right” of kings, almost wiped out freedom again. The kings of England were burning Scotland’s most sincere believers in the streets.

Then, gloriously, in the 16th century, the original document of freedom, the Bible, was unleashed in the language of the people in Scotland. In 1558, after centuries of semi-pagan barbarity, the Scottish people were led to the Savior and His Word by a former bodyguard, former galley slave, and then powerful preacher, John Knox. With their new biblical understanding, they were the first nation to put limits on the power of government (checks and balances). Within a decade the Scots succeeded in dethroning their tyrannical queen.

The struggle for liberty against big government oppression would go on for another century. But a number of precious freedom documents were created during this time of trial in Scotland. They set the stage for America’s Declaration of Independence.
When the Stuart Kings, James and Charles, attempted to destroy true biblical faith, the Scots met in the Greyfriar’s church yard and signed their National Covenant of 1638. Many Scots signed the document in their own blood, swearing never to compromise their faith or that of their children.

The Christian Scots were declaring to the world that their rights came from God, not from the king (or any government leader, court or legislature). Therefore, a ruler, cannot force his arbitrary laws upon the people and expect them to passively follow.
Read the rest at World History Institute


Back in Scotland...

The Clydesdale, first bred on the Carmichael Estates

At the edge of the Carmichael Estates in Lanarkshire, is the Carmichael Church where one of the stained glass windows is dedicated to the Clydesdale horses first bred at Carmichael in 1826. This put the working farm on the map, and yes, this is a unique dedication but the artwork is lovely and worth a look. The Clydesdale is a unique breed of draught horses first bred on the Carmichael Estates in Lanarkshire, Scotland. The name “Clydesdale” is from the deep valley region along the River Clyde where the shires have been breeding work horses for years.

The Clydesdale is usually bay in color with white markings on the face and lower legs, like stockings. The breed was originally used for agriculture and haulage, and is still used for draught purposes today. Best known in the US is the team of Clydesdale used for the Budweiser marketing and in the UK, they are used as drum horses by the British Household Calvary. They have also been used to create and improve other draught breeds.

The breed was developed from Flemish stallions imported to Scotland and crossed with local mares. The first recorded use of the name "Clydesdale" for the breed was in 1826, and by 1830 a system of hiring stallions had begun that resulted in the spread of Clydesdale horses throughout Scotland and into northern England.
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust considered the breed vulnerable to extinction. Population numbers have increased slightly in the intervening time, but they are still thought to be vulnerable.


Abraham Lincoln Presenter

During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States. He had to make some difficult decisions to unite the nation again. I heard Mr. Lincoln speak and his recitation of the Gettysburg address was animated and inspiring. There is a network of Abraham Lincoln presenters across the country. Mr. Cooper is from Ohio.

My sister Mary's  prize winning jam was decorated in civil war dress for the event. It was a big seller from the beginning


 My Historical Fiction books sold well at the event, but Mary did better with her jellies! Food is always a winner

The Wildrose Trilogy


Still a Yankee! The Union flag


 The Battle...

So many were young that went to many died in America's greatest conflict. Come hone to me...

Union Soldier and history enthusiast
Book #3 in the Wildrose Series
Sword of the Wild Rose

Food staples of the war

 Bread, cheese and cornbread

Fruit and dried berries

 Dried fruit traveled well. Note the Ohio "buckeyes"

The Civil War medical supplies

Night before the battle

In Memory...


In memory of Amaziah Cutright,, my g-g-g-grandfather and Civil War Veteran

 Union Infantry 149th Regiment, Ohio Infantry (National Guard) Residence: Occupation: Service Record: Enlisted as a Private on 02 May 1864 at the age of 43. Enlisted in Company D, 149th Infantry Regiment Ohio on 02 May 1864.Mustered out Company D, 149th Infantry Regiment Ohio on 30 August 1864 in Camp Dennison

A call for hundred-day men who went to Virginia, and were with their regiment in all its services until the termination of their term of enlistment

American Civil War Prints

  Amaziah Cutright, b: 7/8/1830 Ross Co Oh, d: 2/28/1905



  149th Regiment, Ohio Infantry (National Gua

Organized at Camp Dennison, Ohio, May 8, 1864. Left State for Baltimore, Md., May 11. Attached to Defences of Baltimore, 8th Army Corps, Middle Department, to July, 1864. 1st Separate Brigade, 8th Army Corps, to July, 1864. Kenly's Independent Brigade, 8th Army Corps, to August, 1864.
Duty in the Defences of Baltimore, Md., and at different points on the eastern shore of Maryland till July 4. Moved to Monocacy Junction July 4. Battle of Monocacy Junction July 9.* (see description) Moved to Washington D. C., July 13. Advance to Snicker's Gap, Va., July 13-20. Operations in the Shenandoah Valley July 20-August 23. Action with Moseby at Berryville August 13. Mustered out August 30, 1864.
Regiment lost during service 4 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 38 Enlisted men by disease. Total 42.
* Battle that Saved Washington Campaign:

Early's Raid and Operations Against B&O RR
June-August 1864
Principal Commanders: Major General Ldwis Wallace, (USI) and Major General Jubal Early, (CS)
Forces Engaged:
0 total (US; CS est.)
Estimated Casualties:
2094 total (US 1294; CS 800)


After marching north through the Shenandoah Valley from Lynchburg, the Confederate army of Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early side-stepped the Federal garrison at Harpers Ferry and crossed the Potomac River at Shepherdstown into Maryland on July 5-6. On July 9, 1864, a makeshift Union force under Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace attempted to arrest Early's invading Confederate divisions along the Monocacy River, just east of Frederick. Wallace, joined by Ricketts's Division of the VI Corps that had been rushed from the Petersburg lines, was outflanked by Gordon's Division and defeated after putting up a stiff resistance. Hearing of Early's incursion into Maryland, Grant embarked the rest of the VI Corps on transports at City Point, sending it with all dispatch to Washington. Wallace's defeat at Monocacy bought time for these veteran troops to arrive to bolster the defenses of Washington. Early's advance reached the outskirts of Washington on the afternoon of July 11, and the remaining divisions of the VI Corps began disembarking that evening. Monocacy was called the "Battle that Saved Washington."

 Genealogy: Amaziah Cutright, father of Henry, was born in Springfield Twp., spent his active career there as a farmer and died at the age of seventy-four. He married Mary J. Hanks, a name that introduces another family of early settlers in Ross County. She was born in Springfield Twp. Her father, Isaac Hanks, was a native of Virginia and her grandfather, Thomas Hanks, was also born in the same commonwealth and came to Ross County about 1800. Thomas Hanks was of the same family stock that produced the mother of Abraham Lincoln.

Amaziah Cutright b. 7/8/1830 d. 7/2/1904

Spouse: Mary Jane Hanks, b. 9/27/1831 d: 7/26/1909

Married: 3/26/1865

Mrs. Mary J. (Hanks) Cutright died at the age of seventy-two.  There were only two children, Mary and Henry.

 Scots In America - Great American Scots

At least 11 Presidents of the USA were of Scots ancestry including:
 McKinley, Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Polk, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Ulysses Grant, who incidentally visited Scotland after he ceased to be President. There is a street in Scotland that is named after him.

John Macintosh, developer of the Mackintosh red apple, was born in
New York State: his father emigrated to the US from Inverness. Apple Computers have named a range of computers after him.

US dentist William Morton, who pioneered the use of anesthesia, was of Scottish descent.

Harvard Medical School was founded by three doctors - of the three, only Dr Benjamin Waterhouse, a graduate of the medical school at Edinburgh University, was a qualified doctor.

Ayrshire born Robert Gibson Eccles emigrated to the
US where, in 1848, he discovered the properties of benzoic acid and benzoate as a food preservative.

US scientist Samuel Guthrie (1728-1848) was of Scots descent. He was one of the pioneers of vaccination and in 1831 discovered chloroform.

Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) is one of the most influential Scots in American history. His father was Scottish and he himself was born in the British colony of
Nevis, located in the West Indies. One of the main authors of the Federalist essays - instrumental in the forming of the Constitution - he became the first US Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton developed an impressive and effective financial plan that created immediate faith in the government of a new nation.

On the bench of the first sitting of the Supreme Court in 1789 sat two Scottish Americans - John Blair and James Wilson. Two of the jurists present on this case were also of Scottish descent, John Rutledge and John Marshall. These jurors served as second and third justices of the court.

Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the
United States, was the grandson of a Scottish Presbyterian minister. His term of office was an exemplary one, fighting for the cause of the common man and promoting the Scottish belief in a strong education system for the people of the county.

First American Secretary of War was a Scot named General Henry Knox, he was appointed in 1785.

General Winfield Scott was the grandson of a Scot who fought at the Battle of Culloden. He became the commanding general of the American forces during the Mexican War of 1846-48.

James Blair (1656-1743) (left), was the first president and founder of the
College of William and Mary; he emigrated from Scotland in 1685.

Alexander Wilson, who emigrated from
Scotland in 1794, was the first person to study North American birds. He was the author of the first seven volumes of the American Ornithology.

Scottish medical knowledge and training was the best in
Europe during the mid-17th Century and many of the recipients traveled to the New World, bringing their advanced education with them. Washington's surgeon at the army fort in Winchester, Virginia was the Edinburgh trained James Craik, originally from Dumfriesshire. His exemplary service record prompted Washington to promote him to physician and surgeon of the whole US army in 1781. It was Craik, a close personal friend of the president, who diagnosed his final illness and treated him till his last hours. A mark of the esteem, in which he was held by Washington, was that he was remembered in his will: "To my compatriot in arms, and old and intimate friend, Dr Craik, I give my bureau (or, as the cabinet makers call it, tambour secretary), and the cabinet chair, an appendage of my study."

Flora MacDonald, the girl who helped the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart, escape from his redcoat pursuers in the days after Culloden, ended her days in the
Carolinas. She believed that Scottish emigration offered a chance, "To begin the world again, anew, in a new corner of it".

Andrew Carnegie, a poor Scots immigrant, found fame and fortune in the
US where he became the Pittsburgh steel millionaire.

Many locations in
America were nostalgically named after the places the Scottish immigrants had left behind. There are eight Aberdeen's, eight Edinburgh's, seven Glasgow's and eight places, simply known as Scotland, in the United States today.

Before the Declaration of Arbroath,
Scotland was organized under a clan system. Many members of the great clans traveled to the New World and named the places in which they settled in honor of their clan names. Today there are areas named Campbell, Cameron, Crawford and Douglas, throughout the US.

The common Scottish surname suffix Mac or Mc can be seen at the start of many area names; in
North Carolina alone there are 130 such places.

There are many societies in
America, such as the St Andrew's Society - named after the patron saint of Scotland, that attempt to retain aspects of Scottish culture and heritage.

Clubs and societies celebrating Scottish ancestry were established in the 18th Century to assist struggling Scots in the new land.

America and Canada there are over 300 St Andrew's Societies, Caledonian Clubs and other Scottish societies.

Popular Scottish sport, such as golf and curling, were imported to
America by the Scottish immigrants. Modern American track and field events originated from massive Scottish athletic tournaments.

The Scots were a valuable addition to a developing world. Their past experience of working in the harsh conditions of rural
Scotland, combined with their hard-working Presbyterian upbringing, made them an ideal people to help build America in its formative years.

There were three distinctive groups of peoples of Scottish ancestry that emigrated to
America: the Lowland Scots, the Highland Scots and the Scotch-Irish.

Religious persecution in
Scotland prompted many to leave their homeland in the early 17th Century. Early settlements were established by these colonists in East Jersey in 1683 (now eastern and northern Jersey) and in South Carolina in 1698. Both these early colonies failed.

Scotland's history has been a tempestuous one, fraught with tension between England and Scotland. Between 1715 and 1745, more than 1,400 defeated Jacobite rebels were banished from their homeland and sent to America for their "crimes".

After the 1707
Union of the Parliaments, trade between Scotland and America dramatically increased. Merchants began to take advantage of the huge opportunities available in the New World, especially in the tobacco trade. Emigration by this group was mostly to Virginia where the tobacco trade was strongest.

The Scottish emigrants of the 18th Century were an educated group due to the Scottish Reformation, which had stressed the need for education, allowing every Scot the ability to read the bible.
Education has always played an important part in Scottish society, and these Scots played a crucial role in the early development of the
New World. Most headmasters of the schools in the new colonies south of New York were Scottish or of Scottish ancestry. These establishments were fundamental in the education of America's future leaders; both Thomas Jefferson's and John Rutledge's tutors were Scottish immigrants.

Scots arriving in the
New World soon established universities, colleges and other educational establishments such as Princeton University, which was initially named the College of New Jersey, when founded in 1746.

During the mid-17th Century Scottish medical establishments were second to none in the fields of education and science. Many recipients of these teachings came to
America, where their influence can be seen to this day.

Many Americans traveled to
Scotland to gain an education in medicine. In 1775 there were 3,500 people practicing medicine in the US, though only 350 or 400 actually held degrees. Most of those holding degrees had been educated in Scotland.

The Scots greatest contribution to American medicine was the belief that it was not simply the body but the mind that must be healed. Drawing upon their knowledge of philosophy and the humanities they expounded the need to be humane when treating patients.

Scots were crucial in establishing separate medical teaching institutions; previously all medical education had been taught within the confines of medical establishments.

Scots have played their part in the political history of the
United States. More than one hundred governors of pre-Revolutionary colonies and post Revolutionary States were of Scottish birth or descent.

35 US Supreme Court Justices have been Scots.

Of 73 Great Americans in the Hall of Fame, 25 were of Scottish blood.

Nearly half of the Secretaries of the US Treasury and one third of the Secretaries of State have been of Scots origin.

Of the fifty-six signatories of the Declaration of Independence, nine were directly or indirectly descended from Scots.

9 out of 13 Governors of the newly created
United States were Scots or of Scottish descent.

Of fifty judges of the Supreme Court from 1759-1882 at least fifteen were of Scottish ancestry.

James Pollock (1810-90), responsible for putting "In God We Trust" on the
US coinage, was of Scottish descent.

The Martyr of the Solway

 The Covenanter movement to maintain the reforms of the Scottish Reformation came to the fore with signing of the National Covenant of 1638 in opposition to royal control of the church, promoting Presbyterianism as a form of church government instead of an Episcopal policy governed by bishops appointed by the Crown. The dispute led to the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the overthrow of the monarchy. With the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 the Covenants were declared treasonable and Episcopacy was restored. Particularly in the south-west of Scotland, ministers refused to submit. Barred from their churches, they held open air field assemblies called conventicles which the authorities suppressed using military force.

Margaret Wilson had been born at Glenvernoch, a farm near Newton Stewart in Wigtownshire. Her parents were dutiful Episcopalians, but her older brothers were among the Covenanters. By 1684 they were hiding from the authorities in the hills, and increasingly draconian action had ended the large conventicles. There were still small gatherings held indoors, but now failure to take a test of allegiance to the king, which required renouncing the Covenant, met with the death penalty, as did even attending a conventicle or harbouring Covenanters. Despite the risks, she began attending conventicles together with her younger brother Thomas, possibly beginning when there was an opportunity at a local conventicle to see the charismatic James Penwick who had newly become leader of the more extreme Covenanters known as the Cameroonians . On occasion they also took along their young sister Agnes.

In February 1685 the sixteen year old Thomas Wilson left to join other Covenanters in the hills. The girls went on a secret visit to Wigtown to visit friends, including an elderly widow Margaret McLachlan (there are various spellings of her second name). The young sisters Margaret and Agnes were taken prisoner, possibly after declining to drink the King's health, and put into the "thieves' hole". They refused to take the Abjuration Oath renouncing the Covenant. On the following Sunday Margaret McLachlan was arrested, and also put into the "thieves' hole" with the Wilson girls, along with a servant woman. 

Taken before the assizes of the Government Commissioners for Wigtownshire, the servant was found partially guilty and given a sentence of flogging and pilloring on three successive days. The other three were found guilty on all charges, and sentenced to be "tied to palisades fixed in the sand, within the floodmark of the sea, and there to stand till the flood o'erflowed them". The father of the girls, Gilbert Wilson, went to Edinburgh and made a plea to the Privy Council of Scotland for clemency for all three, presenting a petition which claimed that Margaret McLachlan had recanted. Agnes was granted freedom on a bond of 100 Pounds Scots, and reprieves were written out for the two Margarets with a date of 30 April 1685. There have been claims that the two women recanted the Covenant and were not executed, but Kirk Session records written out twenty years after the events provide detailed accounts supported by witness statements.

Margaret Wilson and Margaret McLachlan, were condemned to death by drowning and were chained to stakes on the Solway Firth.  Although at the last moment, choking on the salt water, Margaret Wilson was allowed to offer a prayer for the King, this was not good enough for her accusers, and she was forcibly thrust beneath the waves. It is said that, as the tide rose, she defiantly quoted from the psalms and the epistles and sang. After her drowning, witnesses described how her hair floated around her head like a halo in the clear water.

The grave stones in Wigtown.

About 18 at the time of her death, Margaret Wilson was buried, together with her friend Margaret McLauchlan, in the churchyard of Wigtown
(From Wikipedia) ~~


This lovely wee cottage is near the village of Glencoe and I loved everything about it. The front garden was so welcoming and I wanted to tap on the door and have tea with whoever lived there, but...I refrained. Perhaps the next time
  The mountains and valleys of Glencoe

Walkers and climbers frequent the glen

During a visit to Scotland, we drove from Glen Feshie and Kingussie in the eastern highlands to visit the Glencoe valley, an awesome sight for anyone visiting these great glens. But the dark and bloody past still lingers in the stillness, a strange and ominous stillness you cannot quite explain. Situated in the west Highlands of Scotland, the glen is surrounded by majestic mountains with valleys on all sides. Walkers and climbers are drawn to this lovely glen, a shrine to those who lived and loved and died here. If you visit Scotland, Glencoe is worth your time.  

The Massacre at Glenco 1692

They came in a blizzard, we offered them heat
A roof for their heads, dry shoes for their feet
We wined them and dined them, they ate of our meat
And they slept in the house of MacDonald.

O, cruel was the snow that sweeps Glencoe
And covers the grave o' Donald
O, cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe
And murdered the house of MacDonald
They came from Fort William with murder in mind
The Campbell had orders King William had signed
"Put all to the sword" these words underlined
"And leave none alive called MacDonald"

They came in the night when the men were asleep
This band of Argyles, through snow soft and deep
Like murdering foxes amongst helpless sheep
They slaughtered the house of MacDonald

Some died in their beds at the hand of the foe
Some fled in the night and were lost in the snow
Some lived to accuse him who struck the first blow
But gone was the house of MacDonald

Battle Summary of the Massacre


A Copy Of The Order Given To Colin Campbell By Captain Drummond


  Following the ascent of Protestant William III and Mary II to the English and Scottish thrones, many clans in the Highlands rose up in support of James II, their recently deposed Catholic king. Known as Jacobites, these Scots fought to return James to the throne, but were defeated by Government troops in mid-1690. In the wake of James' defeat at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland, the former king withdrew to France to begin his exile. On August 27, 1691, William offered the Jacobite Highland clans a pardon for their role in the uprising provided that their chiefs swore allegiance to him by the end of the year. 

This oath was to be given to a magistrate and those who failed to appear before the deadline were threatened with harsh repercussions from the new king. Concerned over whether to accept William's offer, the chiefs wrote to James asking his permission. Delaying over a decision as he still hoped to regain his throne, the former king finally accepted his fate and granted it late that fall. Word of his decision did not reach the Highlands until mid-December due to particularly harsh winter conditions. Upon receiving this message, the chiefs quickly moved to obey William's command. 
Alastair MacIain, the chief of the MacDonalds of Glencoe, set out on December 31, 1691, for Fort William where he intended to give his oath. Arriving, he presented himself to Colonel John Hill, the governor, and stated his intentions to comply with the king's wishes. A soldier, Hill stated that he was not permitted to accept the oath and told him to see Sir Colin Campbell, the sheriff of Argyle, at Inveraray. Before the MacIain departed, Hill gave him a letter of protection and a letter explaining to Campbell that MacIain had arrived before the deadline. 

Riding south for three days, MacIain reached Inveraray, where he was forced to wait three more days to see Campbell. On January 6, Campbell, after some prodding, finally accepted MacIain's oath. Departing, MacIain believed that he had fully complied with the king's wishes. Campbell forwarded MacIain's oath and the letter from Hill to his superiors in Edinburgh. Here they were examined and a decision was made not to accept MacIain's oath without a special warrant from the king. The paperwork was not, however sent on and a plot was hatched to eliminate the MacDonald's of Glencoe. 

Apparently led by Secretary of State John Dalrymple, who had a hatred of the Highlanders, the plot sought to eliminate a troublesome clan while making an example for the others to see. Working with Sir Thomas Livingstone, the military commander in Scotland, Dalrymple secured the king's blessing for taking measures against those who had not given the oath in time. In late January, two companies (120 men) of the Earl of Argyle's Regiment of Foot were sent to Glencoe and billeted with the MacDonalds. 

These men were specifically chosen as their captain, Robert Campbell of Glenlyon, had seen his land plundered by the Glengarry and Glencoe MacDonalds after the 1689 Battle of Dunkeld. Arriving in Glencoe, Campbell and his men were warmly greeted by MacIain and his clan. It appears that Campbell was unaware of his actual mission at this point, and he and men graciously accepted MacIain's hospitality. After peacefully coexisting for two weeks, Campbell received new orders on February 12, 1692, following the arrival of Captain Thomas Drummond. 

Signed by Major Robert Duncanson, the orders stated, "You are hereby ordered to fall upon the rebels, the MacDonalds of Glencoe, and put all to the sword under seventy. You are to have a special care that the old fox and his sons do upon no account escape your hands. You are to secure all the avenues that no man escape." Pleased to have an opportunity to exact revenge, Campbell issued orders for his men to attack at 5:00 AM on the 13th. As dawn approached, Campbell's men fell upon the MacDonalds in their villages of Invercoe, Inverrigan, and Achacon. 

MacIain was killed by Lieutenant John Lindsay and Ensign John Lundie, though his wife and sons managed to escape. Through the glen, Campbell's men had mixed feelings about their orders with several warning their hosts of the coming attack. Two officers, Lieutenants Francis Farquhar and Gilbert Kennedy refused to take part and broke their swords in protest. Despite these hesitations, Campbell's men killed 38 MacDonalds and put their villages to the torch. Those MacDonalds who survived were forced to flee the glen and an additional 40 died from exposure.


As news of the massacre spread across Britain, an outcry rose against the king. While sources are unclear as to whether William knew the full extent of the orders he signed, he quickly moved to have matter investigated. Appointing a commission of inquiry in early 1695, William awaited their findings. Completed June 25, 1695, the commission's report declared that the attack was murder, but exonerated the king stating that his instructions regarding repercussions did not extend to massacre. 

 The majority of the blame was placed on Dalrymple, however he was never punished for his role in the affair. In the wake of the report, the Scottish Parliament requested an address to the king to be drawn up calling for the punishment of the conspirators and suggesting compensation to surviving MacDonalds. Neither occurred, though the MacDonalds of Glencoe were permitted to return to their lands where they lived in poverty due to the loss of their property in the attack.  ~~

Wayne Davis, the bagpiper of Clan Davidson, CDIG, 2011
My Scottish ancestry is part of my life story. Down through the years, I have found that the blood runs deep and the traits and ways of my people are ever there, touching the chords of my life and playing a role in who I am today. This page is dedicated to those ancestors who have gone before me to establish freedom and liberty in this great land. And to those who feel the rumble when their feet touch the blood soaked land of their ancestry, I say, “Aye, lads and lassies, ‘tis romantic, to be sure”
Enjoy learning more about the Scots and their colorful history ant the stories that are still told over the smoeey peat fires.   RCE

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!"  
Samuel Adams

"We are people to whom the past is forever speaking. We listen to it because we cannot help ourselves, for the past speaks to us with many voices. Far out of that dark nowhere which is the time before we were born, men who were flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone went through fire and storm to break a path to the future. We are part of the future they died for; they are part of the past that brought the future. 

What they did, the lives they lived, the sacrifices they made, the stories they told and the songs they sang and, finally, the deaths they died, make up a part of our own experience. We cannot cut ourselves off from it. It is as real to us as something that happened last week. It is a basic part of our heritage as Americans". -Bruce Catton

The Davidsons, the Dungeon, and the Wolf

This photo was taken when visiting Scotland. This castle, now a ruin and sinking into the loch, Loch an Eilean , is where “the Wolf” resorted and where three Davidson clansmen were held captive in the dungeon for seven years and later executed.


Three miles southeast from Aviemore down the B970 road lay the Rothiemurchus Estate property. Buried deep in the center of the Cairngorm Mountains in Glen Spey, the home turf of Clan Davidson back in the 12th C., Rothiemurchus Estate was once a working Highlands farmstead. Now converted to the Scottish equivalent of a “dude ranch” and a full spectrum vacation get-away it is a place rich in the oft-times bloody history of Scotland.

Our intrepid Scottish gadabout and prize winning author, Ruth Ellinger spent some time there recently and came across a wee lovely jewel of a glacially scooped-out lake, Loch an Eilean. The place intrigued her so much she did some research about the place and came across the dark story of Alexander Stewart, the Wolf of Badenoch, and his mistreatment of some Davidson Clansman about 600 years ago. Judging from history and Ruth’s story, sounds like Alexander Stewart was not a nice guy to have for a neighbor…

Dave Chagnon, Sennachie, Clan Davidson

The Dungeon, the Davidsons, and the Wolf

©by Ruth Carmichael Ellinger 2010

On our last visit to Scotland, September, 2008, I researched some interesting possibilities concerning our ancestral ties to Clan Davidsons in the days when they still resided at Invernahaven, in and around the Spey Valley. The Carmichaels, the other branch in my Scottish gene pool, have a cottage in Glen Feshie where we stay when visiting the Highlands. This is only a short distance from the lands where the Davidsons lived before removing to the more northerly regions of Scotland near the Black Isle. The scenery around this particular area of the Highlands is spectacular. Even the aura of the glens speaks of the ancient legends of our storied people. Exploring this area is worth the time and effort it takes to drive to the 10,000 hectares (approx. 25k acres) of ancient Caledonian forest, glens, lochs, rivers, mountains, and majestic wilderness landscapes.

In 2005, while rambling about this area, we came upon Loch an Eilean, a picturesque wee loch with a 13th century castle ruin on an island in the midst of the loch. The castle and island appeared to be sinking into the loch.
Loch an Eilean, (loch with island), is nestled in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park and is part of the Rothiemurchus Estate lands. The nearest villages are Aviemore and Kingussie. 

When we happened upon the loch, we decided to take a wee peek. After parking our car, we walked the trails through a forested area to where the loch lay against a backdrop of mountains. The setting was beautiful, even mystic, with the ever-changing cloud formations of the skyline. As I gazed at the castle ruin, wondering who might have lived there, a strange unsettling feeling crept over me. Aye, ‘twas that mystical déjà vu, to be certain. The experience was rather eerie. 

Later during our tour, I made an interesting discovery concerning Loch an Eilean and the Davidsons. I picked up a small heritage book by Archie McKerracher simply titled, Clan Davidson. In the village of Kingussie, we discovered the Highland Folk Museum with archived accounts of Clan Davidson activities. We visited Loch Alvie Kirk, a beautiful church overlooking a loch near Kingussie, and read many names of Davidsons on the ancient tombstones. This area of the highlands had obviously been their home at one time.

In those early times, the chiefs of the Davidsons settled at Invernahaven, a small estate in Badenoch, at the junction of the Truim with the Spey. In my research, I unearthed some history about an unsavory character who lived and roamed this same area of the highlands. I thought he must have crossed the paths of our ancient Clan, and, if we squint our eyes a wee bit, we can see this character in our mind’s eye, perhaps even crossing blades with our Davidson ancestors. They called him the Wolf of Badenoch, a man who struck fear into the hearts of the villagers and crofters who lived during his lifetime.

The “Wolf” was the illegitimate fourth son of King Robert II by his mistress Elizabeth More whom the king later married. This rebellious son was one of the most despicable, most evil, and blackest characters in the history of Scotland. He was also known as “Big Alexander,” but his rightful name was Alexander Stewart, Alisdair Mor mac an Righ, the Wolf of Badenoch, and a meaner man could not be found in all of Scotland.
In those highly uncivilized times, the Wolf rose above all and his reign of terror covered a considerable area. The period of which we speak begins about 1370, give or take a few years. Our Davidson ancestors lived at that same time in that area of the highlands. We could assume that it would have been only natural for the Clan to have a first hand knowledge of the Wolf and his highly questionable activities.

Despite his illegitimate birth and evil activities, his father, King Robert, indulged all his bastard children and made “the Wolf” Lord of Badenoch, Earl of Buchan, and he also served as his brother's royal deputy in northern Scotland. A wee bit of politics, I presume, for who in their right mind would tolerate such an evil, self-serving person in such a position? A son only a father could love.
The Wolf was a cruel man, ruling the lands of Badenoch and the Spey Valley in a brutal and pitiless manner, burning, raping, and pillaging the homes of any who crossed or displeased him. The man was void of honor even though he was the son of a king. 

Now, let us return to the Davidsons who were present in this area at that time. The Clan gallops full-grown onto the stage of history about 1370, the same year we see the Wolf reeking havoc near Invernahaven and the surrounding countryside.
Clan Davidson was of considerable number in those days, and in close alliance with the Mackintoshes of Invernahaven. Now, I’m certain that our Davidson ancestors were an honorable, hard working Clan, apt to mind their own business as they went about the glens hunting and fishing for lake trout in the lochs.

Not so with the Wolf. He didn’t work at all, the bum. Instead, the worthless ignoble noble, robbed innocent people as a means of livelihood. His wife finally grew tired of his wicked ways and gave him the royal boot after he deserted her in favor of his mistress. His wife was the Countess of Ross and had some means of her own. Most likely, the Wolf married her for her money and estates. After all, he did have a title, which he dragged through the mud, but a title nevertheless. 
In desperation, the Countess appealed to the Bishop of Moray, who judged the Wolf a reprobate and a scoundrel, and sided in favor of the Countess and excommunicated the Wolf. Well, the big, bad Wolf was outraged! He stormed and raged and left his stronghold at Lochindorb further up Glen Spey and took a party of his fellow henchmen and ransacked and burned the villages of Forres and Elgin. At that time, Elgin was the ecclesiastical center of the Bishopric of Moray. He burned the Canon's houses and terrorized the people of Elgin, forcing them to flee for their lives into the countryside. Later, the Wolf burned Elgin Cathedral just to spite the bishop, destroying irreplaceable monastic records as well as family and historic documents. Needless to say, the bishop was not amused. The loss of the Cathedral was heartrending.

Meanwhile, back at the Glen, the Davidsons, (a strong branch of the confederation of Clan Chattan at the time), Clans Mackintosh, MacPherson, and the Camerons, were all gearing up for the Battle of Invernahaven. This battle concerned a dispute between the Camerons and the confederation of Clan Chattan.
The result of the battle in 1370 was an ongoing and bitter feud between Clan Chattan and the Camerons that lasted until 1666. As we all know, the Scots have long memories when it comes to feuds and nursing old grudges.
While some claim the Battle of the North Inch of Perth in 1396 as being a large causative factor in the relocation of Clan Davidson from Glen Spey to the area to the north around the Dark Isle and Dingwall, my discovery at Loch an Eilean posed another possibility for this migration. That strange unsettling aura that assaulted my senses while visiting the loch was a clue, another fly in the ointment that may have contributed to their strange disappearance.

The Wolf often used the castle at Loch an Eilean as a refuge when pursued by those who dared to challenge him. It was a sure stronghold, surrounded by water and not easily taken. The Wolf had equipped a dungeon that was half submerged in loch water, ready for anyone who was unlucky enough to be caught by his men.

 After most Davidsons had left the area, two Davidsons were implicated in the brutal murder of Lachlan, the fourteenth Mackintosh chief. One of these two, Milmoir MacDhaibhidh, was the chief’s foster-brother, and believed the chief had thwarted his prospects of marrying a rich widow. (The plot thickens) So, another man, John Malcolmson, along with the two Davidsons, ambushed the chief while he was hunting at Ravoch and killed him. The three assassins were captured and for this heinous act, were kept in chains in the dungeon on Loch an Eilean for seven years. Woo-hoo, no wonder I felt the creeps. 

After seven years in the dungeon and without trial, Malcolmson was beheaded, and the two Davidsons suffered brutal torture, hanged, and had their heads fixed on poles at the spot where they were said to have committed the crime. This was certainly a statement against our unfortunate Clansmen, and for them, a brutal death after a long and miserable incarceration in the castle dungeon at Loch an Eilean.
Is it any wonder the sinking castle ruin gave me such negative vibes? Must have been the Davidson blood crying out, for who knows what else happened there.

Another crushing conflict concerning Clan Davidson was the Battle of Harlaw in 1411. This battle was thought to be a conflict between Highlanders and Lowlanders, with the outcome retarding the expansion of the Gaelic influence, and is considered one of the most brutal in Scottish history. It is often referred to as, "Red Harlaw".
To further this downward spiral, some Davidsons were implicated in a conspiracy against the fifteenth Mackintosh chief that led to his beheading by the Earl of Huntly at Strathbogie. The Davidsons who allegedly conspired were servants and holders of the Davidson name, and it was highly unlikely that this violent act could have affected the entire Clan. 

However, after years of feuds, battles, defeats, and harassment, it appears the remaining Invernahaven Davidsons thought it best to remove to a less hostile environment. Can you blame then? With characters like the “Wolf” roaming their turf, the ongoing feuds and ignoble nobles ruling the lands, not to mention the extreme ecclesiastical control at the time, it is no marvel they moved north. In Ross-shire, Cromarty, Dingwall, Cantray, Inchmarlo, and the surrounding glens of the Black Isle, the clan again put down roots. From their new location, they rose again to become an industrious, prestigious, and stable Clan, shedding off the dark days of feudalism and defeat, and their undesirable Invernahaven ties. But if you visit this area of Scotland, you will find their names carved on the ancient tombstones and the memory of their deeds in Invernahaven still alive.
So, what happened to the Wolf?

His rampaging deeds as the Wolf of Badenoch, was earning him a page in the annals of infamy. Lawless, vicious, totally irreligious, and unrepentant, Alexander Stewart, the Wolf, lies in an elaborate tomb under the roof of Dunkerd Cathedral. His long and bloody warfare is over. Far better he should be buried at his stronghold at Lochindorb. Although the setting is similar to the island refuge at Loch an Eilean, Lochindorb is a bleak, gothic castle built on a rocky island in an isolated loch in the desolate and unforgiving landscape of Dava Moor. A more desolate area cannot be found in all of Scotland. His tomb is topped by an effigy in amour and is one of the few Scottish royal monuments to have survived from the Middle Ages. That is all the Wolf ever gave us.

Legend says that the Wolf of Badenoch died about 1406 after a chess game with the devil. A tall man dressed in black called on the Wolf at Ruthven Castle. The man wished to play a game of chess with him. The game lasted for several hours until the somberly dressed man moved a chess pieces and said, “Checkmate.” After saying this, the man rose from the table. Immediately, a terrible storm with loud thunder, hail, and lightening shook the castle. All night the storm raged. In the morning, the Wolf's men were discovered outside the castle walls, dead and blackened as though struck by lightening. The Wolf was found in the banqueting hall, and although his body appeared unmarked, the nails in his boots had all been torn out.

The funeral procession began two days later, led by the Wolf's coffin. Terrible storms began to rage and it was only after the Wolf's coffin was carried to the rear of the procession did the storms abate.
The Wolf of Badenoch was not buried in his own locale, but was entombed far from the lands he ruled.

Tomb of the Wolf of Badenoch

(Any discrepancies in historic content, I claim as my own)

The Clans Of The Scottish Highlands: The Costumes of the Clans, R. R. McIan
Highland Press and Journal, 20/2/86

“A Highland Hideaway…” Bill McAllister
Loch An Eilien’

Highlanders: A History of the Gaels, John Macleod
The Principles of Sociology, Volumes 1-3
Herbert Spencer, Jonathan Turner
History of Moray
Lachlan Shaw (1775) Available as PDF online

The Survival of Scotland:  A survey of Scottish history from Roman times to the present day -  Eric Linklater
A Concise History of Scotland -- Fitzroy MacLean, 1973

The Davidsons, the Origins of the Clans, Rennie McOwen


Sites of Interest in the area where Clan Davidson once lived and roamed before removing north
Loch Alvie Church
The present church was built in 1798, but is believed to contain elements of the earlier parish kirk of St Drostan. 150 skeletons were discovered beneath the church when it was refurbished...
Just off the B9152 at the southern end of Loch Alvie

Aviemore Ring Cairn (estimated age 2400-2200 BC)
'It is a Clava-type cairn, named after the site of Clava in Strathnairn. Excavations at similar
cairns have unearthed fragments of burnt human bone...'
Sign-posted from Aviemore main street.

Ballintomb Standing Stones. We hiked to the four standing stones on the northeast/southwest alignment along a low ridge to the west of the River Spey. From the bridge in Dulnain Bridge, follow the path down the east bank of the river to the line of the old railway. Follow the railway about 200 yards past the farm buildings and turn south where the stones are located on a low ridge above the Spey. A fascinating outing. Waterproof footwear needed.

Congash Chapel and Pictish Symbol Stones
The site of an old chapel is indicated by an oval enclosure, now filled with field stones. On the southern edge of the bank are two Pictish carved stones.
Park in the disused quarry about 350 metres east of the entrance to Congash Farm on the A95. The site can be reached through a gate at the back of the quarry, and is located at the far end of the field to the south. Again, waterproof footwear advised.

Duff House (1735 - 1742) William Adam built this house for William Duff M.P., Lord Braco and later Earl of Fife. This magnificent Baroque mansion has undergone complete refurbishment as a Country House Gallery. Off A97 near Banff
Open Apr-Oct daily Nov-Mar, Thurs-Sun 1100-1600

Grantown on Spey Museum - just off the square.
Open Mar - Dec
Highland Folk Museum, Kingussie
Off A9 on A86
Open Mid April – Oct. Definitely worth some time.
Ruthven Barracks. Eighteenth century barracks. Burned down in 1746. A majestic and magnificent ruin. Set on an impregnable hill with spectacular views.
Off A86 on B970 one mile south of Kingussie. Open all year.