Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The Appin Stewarts
The Appin Stewarts, also known as “The Loyal Clan”, is the West Highland branch of the royal surname Stewart, descend from Sir James Stewart of Perston, 4th son of Sir John Stewart of Bonkill, second son of Alexander, the 4th High Steward of Scotland. Sir James was the grandfather of John Stewart of Innermeath, who, through marriage to Isabell NicDougall (MacDougall) of Lorn, became the first Stewart Lord of Lorn. The Lordship of Lorn passed down for 2 more generations to Sir John Stewart, the third Stewart Lord of Lorn.
Appin is located in the West Highlands between Benderloch to the South and the Ballachulish Narrows to the North in modern day Argyll. Today the primary towns include Port Appin and Portnacroish. Both are scenic and are surrounded by forests and water. To the West are islands including the beautiful Isle of Lismore, home to the MacLeas and the Baron Buchull, keeper of the Buchull Mhòr (the crosier of St. Moluag). There are numerous sights of interest including Ardsheal's Cave, the Clach Ruric, Cnap a-Chaolais, Castle Stalker, Eilean Munde and Keil churchyard.
15th centuryIn 1403 a band of Highlanders, said to have been the Clan Stewart of Appin led by Alexander Stewart, the son of the Wolf of Badenoch murdered Sir Malcolm Drummond, chief of the Clan Drummond.
Tradition tell us that in 1445, while returning to his seat at Dunstaffnage Castle from the great cattle tryst at Crieff, Sir John met and fell in love with the daughter of MacLaren of Ardvech. Although married, he began an affair with his new love which one year later produced a son. He was christened Dugald and was to be the first Chief of the Stewarts of Appin. Sir John Stewart was born around 1410, putting him at about 35 when he met the woman that would become his second wife.
After the death of his first wife, Sir John waited, for reasons we are unaware of today, for 5 years until setting up the marriage between himself and Dugald's mother, but it may have had something to do with the politics of the day. In 1463, Sir John set a wedding date and sent for Dugald and his mother to come to Dunstaffnage. Unknown to Sir John, there was a plot to kill the Lord of Lorn. It is not fully known, but it is thought to have been set up by the Lord of the Isles who was in a power struggle with the King of Scots, and who saw it as being in his best interest to neutralize this powerful and loyal representative of the King in the west highlands. The other plotters, which some feel included Colin Campbell, Lord Argyll, Sir John's son-in-law, were primarily represented by Alan MacCoul, the illegitimate grandson of an earlier MacDougall Chief. As the lightly armed wedding party made its way from Dunstaffnage to the small chapel located approximately 180 yards from the castle walls, they were attacked by a superior force led by Alan MacCoul.
Although better armed, MacCoul's force was defeated, but not before mortally wounding Lord of Lorn. Sir John was rushed into the chapel and MacCoul and his henchmen ran into and occupied the deserted Dunstaffnage. With his last breath Sir John married Dugald's mother, legitimizing him and making him the de jure Lord of Lorn. After receiving the last rites, Sir John expired and a new chapter in west highland history was opened. Dugald gathered all the adherents of the Lord of Lorn and with the assistance of the MacLarens laid siege to Dunstaffnage, but to no avail. Unbeknownst to Dugald, Colin Campbell, Lord Argyll who seemed to have been involved in the plot, raised a group of MacFarlanes to aid MacCoul in his struggle against the de jure Lord of Lorn. MacCoul's men with the MacFarlanes met the men of Lorn and MacLaren in what was to be known as the battle of Leac a dotha. It was a fierce battle with both sides leaving the field with very heavy losses.
For the next few years Dugald, who had lost the title of Lord of Lorn through the treachery of his uncle Walter Stewart and the lord of Argyll, but had retained Appin and Lismore (great single malt scotch), consolidated his power and fortified the hunting lodge of Castle Stalker on the Cormant's Rock in Loch Laich (photo above). He also ensured that the Campbells were in no doubt about his displeasure over the loss of the Lordship of Lorn, by having the Campbell territory surrounding Appin regularly raided by the clan. Finally, in 1468, in a bid to finally destroy the power of Appin, Colin Campbell and Walter Stewart, the latter now recognized as the Lord of Lorn (but with no authority in Lorn), organized a massive raid against Dugald and his clan. Alan MacCoul was again involved and they met at what was to be known as the Battle of Stalc. Though losing many men, Dugald virtually destroyed the military strength of the MacFarlanes (a destruction from which they were never to recover) and personally killed Alan MacCoul, his father's murderer. The battle solidified Dugald's claim to Appin and the surrounding area, which was formally granted to him by King James III on the 14th of April 1470.
In 1497 some of the Clan MacLaren stole cattle from the Braes of Lochaber from the Clan MacDonald of Keppoch. The MacDonalds followed them and overtook them at a place called Glenurchy where a battle took place. The MacDonalds won and recovered their cattle. However the MacLarens then looked for assistance from Dugald Stuart of Appin. Another battle then took place where the MacLarens were now joined by the Stuarts against the MacDonalds. During the battle Dugald, the chief of the Clan Stewart of Appin and the Clan MacDonald of Keppoch chief were both killed.
at 9:21 AM