14 July 2012

McFadyens Part 14: A Welcome New Source

Historian and author Nicholas Maclean-Bristol (NMB) is now publishing the translation of Donald Mackinnon’s important manuscript about the Isle of Coll, written after the schoolmaster left for Australia in 1859.[1] He includes a transcript of the original Gaelic version. The second installment in West Highland Notes and Queries, Series 3, No. 19 (May 2012), newsletter of the West Highland and Island Society of Historical Research, had me chewing my brain for days.
My thanks to NMB for providing a copy of this map.
The second installment of Mackinnon’s account concerns Crossapol and Totamore, and presents two interesting implications for McFadyen descendants:[2]
▪ Mackinnon seems to have revealed a hitherto unknown son of the Charles Roy [McPhaiden] at Ardnish as per the 1716 disarmament list.
▪ By naming grandchildren of the hitherto unknown son, he gives clues which may lead to identifying origins of some of the earliest McFadyens petitioning for land grants in Cape Breton. 

For now, I air my thoughts on the first point above. Comments on the second will follow later. I air my thoughts in full recognition of my limitations as a scholar and fervently hope that others more knowledgeable will respond. Genealogical research for Highland ancestors who pre-date parish registers usually depends on manuscript material in difficult to access collections, often obscured by the primary nature (cataloguing) of such a collection, and/or on the traditional oral family memory. Thus early genealogical linkages frequently rest on sporadic sources, secondary information (memory), and inevitable assumptions.

Born in 1800, Mackinnon was an educated native of Coll representing “insider” knowledge of both local history and the ancestry of the inhabitants. He wrote of what he knew and absorbed since childhood, with the gift of recalling the patronymics for many, many residents. Here is a welcome new source of island life for historians and genealogists.     
Previously, NMB ascribed two children to the above Charles Roy, shown at Ardnish on the 1716 disarmament list for Coll: Margaret Ann with certainty, and Angus with uncertainty.[3] Franklin and Lamont adopt the same.[4] In his account, Mackinnon names a family of servants to the Maclean farmer at Totamore House, headed by “Lachlan son of John son of Charles.”[5] This Lachlan can be pinpointed in the 1776 list of Coll parishioners, son of John McPhaiden and Catherine McDonald, under the age of seven years.[6] Thus the existence of his grandfather Charles reaches back to the early eighteenth century.

The 1716 list, prepared for the Sheriff of Argyll, “gives the impression that it is a list of the whole male population over the age of sixteen.”[7] Therefore it seems likely that there was no other adult Charles in contemporary McFadyen families. Without conflicting evidence, one works on the theory that grandfather Charles and Charles Roy were one and the same person. Good news for descendants of Lachlan and Catherine—of Totamore when they married in 1789—if they can link (especially their emigrant ancestors) to Lachlan’s children whose names and baptismal dates are provided by NMB in a note. An expanded ancestry to Charles Roy and beyond also carries exciting potential.

Unfortunately for me, the news seems to have no direct impact on my Donald-the-pensioned-soldier who came to Cape Breton in 1828.

Mackinnon goes further to name two sons of Lachlan and Catherine who “went to America.” On that point, I have issues with the attendant note that Cape Breton was their destination in 1822. My next post on the subject will compare his statement with some known early settlers in Cape Breton.
For serious researchers in mediaeval and subsequent times of the Inner Hebrides, I recommend West Highland Notes and Queries by subscription to the Society of West Highland and Island Historical  Research, Breacachadh Castle, Isle of Coll, Argyll, Scotland PA78 6TB. Current annual fees from January 1st each year are CDN$44, US$34.

[1] The first part appeared in West Highland Notes and Queries, Series 3, No. 17 (November 2011). The next appeared in Series 3, No. 19 (May 2012). Four more parts are planned for future issues.
[2] I customarily use the spelling McFadyen in generic mentions but apply the original version used when citing the work of others.   
[3] “The MacFadyens in Ballyhough” chart in West Highland Notes and Queries, Series 3, No. 5 (November 2002), “Special MacFadyen Issue.”
[4] See Glenda McPhadden Franklin and Gene Donald Lamont, “Genealogical Records – The MacFadyen-McPhadden Family in Coll and Tiree” at Coll Genealogy (www.collgenealogy.com/).
[5] West Highland Notes and Queries, Series 3, No. 19, p. 11.
[6] “List of the Inhabitants in the Island of Coll Decr 2nd1776” in Kirk Session Minutes [Coll] 1733-1813, National Archives of Scotland, CH2/70/1.
[7] Nicholas Maclean-Bristol, ed., “Inhabitants of the Inner Isles Morvern and Ardnamurchan,” Scottish Record Society, New Series, Vol. 21 (1998).

© Brenda Dougall Merriman, 2012

1 comment:

Brian Anderson said...

Very interesting read - It is fortunate that people are still doing genealogical/historical research on the two islands (Tiree and Coll). I hope more data comes to light. Thanks for blogging this Brenda.