Clan MacDougall

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Clan MacDougall
Mac Dùghall (Gaelic for "Son of Dougall"), MacDhùghaill (Surname) & Clann 'icDhùghaill (Collective).
Clan member crest badge - Clan MacDougall.svg
Crest: On a chapeau Gules furred Ermine, a dexter arm in armour embowed fessways couped Proper, holding a cross crosslet fitchée erect Gules.
Motto Buaidh no bàs (Victory or Death), also translated as "Conquer or Die".
Region Highland
District Argyll
Plant badge Bell Heather.[1]
Animal Raven[2]
Pipe music "Caisteal Dhunolla"
"Cumha Chaiptein MacDhughaill", "Failte Iain Cheir", "Jeanne Rea's Wedding", "Latha Dhunabharti", "Maid of Lorn", "MacDougall's Gathering", "MacDougall Gillies", "MacDougall's Lament", "MacDougall of Lunga", "MacDougall of Lunga-Paterson", "McDougall's Jig Oban Reel"
MacDougall of MacDougall arms.svg
Morag Morley MacDougall of MacDougall and Dunollie
Seat Dunollie Castle
Historic seat Dunstaffnage Castle

Clan MacDougall is a Highland Scottish clan.



The Clan MacDougall takes its name from Dougall, the son of Somerled who was killed at the Battle of Renfrew in 1164.[4] After Somerled's death, Dougall held most of Argyll as well as the islands of Mull, Lismore, Jura, Tiree, Coll and others.[4]

The Celtic first name Dougall, or Dugald is derived from the Gaelic dubh-gall, which means black stranger.[4] Dougall's royal descent was acknowledged by the king of Norway and Dougall himself was styled as 'King of the South Isles and Lord of Lorne'.[4] Dougall's son was Duncan and his grandson was Ewan. Duncan and Ewan built many castles to defend their territory.[4] These included Dunstaffnage Castle, Dunollie Castle and Duntrune Castle on the main land.[4] Whilst on the islands they built Aros Castle, Cairnburgh Castle, Dunchonnel Castle and Coeffin Castle.[4] Dunollie Castle is believed to have been fortified since the 6th century and became the seat of the chief of Clan MacDougall.[4] Duncan also built Ardchattan Priory and it was here that the MacDougall chiefs were buried until 1737.[4]

Scottish-Norwegian War[edit]

Ewan's possessions on the islands were held from the king of Norway, whilst his possessions on the mainland were held from the king of Scotland.[4] This made it hard for him to remain loyal to both.[4] In 1263 Haakon IV of Norway arrived with a huge fleet off the coast of Oban for an invasion of the west coast of Scotland.[4] However Ewan decided not to join the invasion and thanks to old blood ties Haakon left him in peace.[4] The Battle of Largs then took place and Ewan joined the side of Scots and attacked part of the Norse fleet.[4] The Vikings were utterly defeated and three years later Norway ceded all of the Hebrides to Scotland.[4]

Wars of Scottish Independence[edit]

The MacDougall Cross, dating from about 1500 at Ardchattan Priory.

The MacDougall's influence in Argyll brought them into conflict with the Clan Campbell.[4] In 1294 John MacDougall of Argyll led the Clan MacDougall against the Clan Campbell at the Battle of Red Ford, where Sir Colin Campbell was killed but there were considerable losses on both sides.[4]

The fourth chief of Clan MacDougall married a sister of John II Comyn, Lord of Badenoch (the "Black Comyn"), whose son, John III Comyn, Lord of Badenoch (the "Red Comyn") was stabbed to death by Robert the Bruce in the church of Greyfriars in Dumfries in 1306, and this brought the MacDougalls into conflict with the Bruces.[4] The MacDougalls who had supported William Wallace in the cause of Scottish independence now found themselves in a blood feud with the Clan Bruce, whose cause was also of Scottish Independence.[4] Shortly after Robert the Bruce's coronation at Scone he was forced by the English to retreat into Argyll, in an attempt to reach his Clan Campbell allies.[4] However the Clan MacDougall surprised the Bruce and defeated him in what was known as the Battle of Dalrigh.[4] The king escaped but left behind what was described as a magnificent example of Celtic jewellery, known as the Brooch of Lorne and it became one of the Clan MacDougall's great treasures.[4] Three years later Robert the Bruce led three thousand battle hardened veterans into Argyll against the MacDougalls.[4] John MacDougall of Lorne set an ambush for them but in the ensuing Battle of the Pass of Brander the MacDougalls were defeated and forced to flee.[4] The MacDougall's lands were then forfeited by the king and he gave them to the Campbells for their loyalty.[4] The MacDougalls never regained their island possessions, however their fortunes were restored to a great extent when Euan MacDougall married a granddaughter of Robert the Bruce.[4] Most of their mainland lands were returned in a royal charter from David II of Scotland.[4]

17th century and Civil War[edit]

During the civil war of the 17th century the MacDougalls were generally royalists and chief Alexander MacDougall led five hundred of his clansmen into battle.[4] However after the defeat of the royalist James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, a Covenanter army, led by David Leslie, Lord Newark was sent into Argyll to deal with royalist supporters.[4] The MacDougalls lands were restored however, after the restoration on the monarchy in 1660.[4]

18th century and Jacobite risings[edit]

During the Jacobite rising of 1715 the Clan MacDougall supported the Jacobite cause and fought at the Battle of Sheriffmuir after which the chief was forced into exile but later returned to Scotland to live as a fugitive.[4] He was pardoned in 1727.[4]

His son and next chief, Alexander MacDougall did not take part in the Jacobite rising of 1745.[4] However his brother and some of the clansmen did indeed fight as Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.[4] The fighting force of the clan at this time is given as 200 men.[5]


A Victorian era, romanticised depiction of a member of the clan by R. R. McIan, from The Clans of the Scottish Highlands, published in 1845.

The current chief of the clan is Morag Morley MacDougall of MacDougall.[6][7] The Chieftaincy of a Gaelic clan now usually follows the principle of agnatic seniority. The present holder is a niece of her predecessor, Coline Helen Elizabeth MacDougall (XXX) of MacDougall and Dunollie, d. 1990,[8] herself the daughter of Colonel Alexander James MacDougall (XXIX) of MacDougall and Dunollie.

The principle collateral branches of the MacDougalls of Dunollie (also spelt, Dunolly), are those of Gallanach and Soraba (now spelt, Soroba). Of the former, MacDougall of Gallanach, was established as a Cadet of the Clan in 1641 when John MacDougall of Torsay was granted the Estate by Alexander MacDougall, 18th of Dunollie. Ownership has remained in the same family since but has passed twice through the female members, firstly in 1888 and again in 1935 due to deaths in the male line. However, a lineal male descendant of Allan MacDougall (6th Laird of Gallanach from 1793 to 1799), Malcolm Peters MacDougall, currently lives in SW France and has 2 sons and 1 daughter. The Estate of Gallanach passed from Allan MacDougall to his younger brother Patrick in 1799 from whom the current owner, Charles Patten Williamson MacDougall of Gallanach, is descended. Jane Patten (née MacDougall), 11th of Gallanach and granddaughter of Patrick, requested that all future family members who became owners of the property should adopt the surname of MacDougall, this being first done by her eldest son, Sir James Patten MacDougall KCB in the late 19th century and again in the mid 20th century by her great-grandson, Major James Williamson MacDougall MC., both with the permission of the Lord Lyon.[citation needed]

The principle cadet branch of the Clan was MacDougall of Raray and Ardmaddie (spelt variously as, Raera, Reray and Rara), or Craigenicht, Ardnahoy and Lunga.[8] The male line of the MacDougalls of Lunga became extinct with the deaths of Lt.-Col. Stewart MacDougall (1915) and his son, Iain MacDougall of Lunga Adj. 2nd Batt. Grenadier Guards, the previous year. (The Lunga estate was inherited by Lt. Col. MacDougall's eldest daughter Helen Margaret MacDougall, who married Major Francis Howard Lindsay and whose son, John Stewart Lindsay adopted the surname Lindsay-MacDougall). Lt. Col. MacDougall had four male first cousins, however.

In the event of the failure of the line of Lunga (or any of its collateral branches), the MacDougalls of Raray are represented by another branch, that of Coll of Ardencaple[9] a son of John (IV) of Raray and Ardmaddie. Allan MacDougall sold the estate of Ardincaple in 1877, it having been five hundred years tradition says eight in the possession of his forefathers.[10] He succeeded his father, Rear-Admiral John MacDougall, of Ardencaple (died 1870), a Captain Commandant of the 1st Easdale Argyll Artillery Volunteers.

Of the MacDougalls of Soraba there is little known.

The following chiefs are not MacDougalls through lineal male descent: Morag MacDougall of MacDougall, Chief of Clan MacDougall. Colin MacDougall of Lunga, Senior Cadet of Clan MacDougall, and Charles MacDougall of Gallanach, Cadet of Clan MacDougall.[citation needed]

Chiefs arms: Quartered in these arms are two ancient royal emblems, the Black Galley of Lorn symbolising descent from the royal house of the Norse and the lion symbolic of the descent from the Scottish Kings of ancient Dal Riada.


Castles built or owned by the Clan MacDougall have included:



MacDougall tartan, as published in 1842 in the Vestiarium Scoticum.[11]
  • MacDougall (Modern)
  • MacDougall (Ancient)
  • MacDougall (Dress)

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "". 
  2. ^ "". 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Retrieved on 20 July 2007
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 216 – 217.
  5. ^ "The Scottish Clans and Their Tartans". W. & A. K. Johnston Limited. Edinburgh and London. 1886. Page 47.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b[dead link]
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Scotland's Forged Tartans, p.43-44

External links[edit]