Clan McCulloch

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Clan McCulloch
Mac Cú Uladh / Mac Cù Uladh
MottoVi Et Animo (From Lat. By strength and courage)[1]
McCulloch of Myreton arms.svg
Clan McCulloch has no chief, and is an armigerous clan
Historic seatCardoness Castle.[2]
Last ChiefThe MacCulloch of Myreton.
Clan branches
MacCulloch of Myreton
MacCulloch of Plaidis
MacCulloch of Oban
Allied clans
Map of the Rhinns of Galloway
Chapel Rossan Bay looking across to Ardwell village, Wigtownshire.

Clan MacCulloch is a Lowland Scottish clan. As it no longer has a Clan chief, Clan MacCulloch is an Armigerous clan.



The name MacCulloch is of Celtic origin and is found mainly in Galloway and Wigtownshire.[3] In Scottish Gaelic the name is rendered as MacCullaich which is translated as son of a boar.[3] An alternative derivation has been suggested that the name comes from the Irish Gaelic MacCú'Uladh which means son of the Hound of Ulster and is anglicized as MacCullagh.[3] Perhaps the most convincing interpretation of clan's origins is the conjecture that the family descended from Ulgric, one of the leaders of the Gallovidian spearmen who fought and fell in the van of King David I’s army at the Battle of the Standard in 1138. While their ancestry remains obscure, it is overwhelmingly likely that the MacCullochs descend from the Gall-Goídil or Norse-Gaelic kindreds who took root in western Galloway in the 11th Century, moving in from Ireland and the Hebrides, and gradually extending their imprint eastwards to become the dominant cultural influence on the province.

The first record of the name MacCulloch swore fealty to Edward I of England in 1296,[4] on the Ragman Rolls.[3] Andrew McCulloch's history of Galloway: A Land Apart suggests that their prominence in Wigtownshire pinpoints the family as one of the kindreds who amassed power and land under Roland (or Lochlann), Lord of Galloway, having supported him in the brief civil conflict against his uncle Gille Brichte in the later 12th century.[5] The MacCulloch lineage held the lands of Torhouse, Myreton and Ardwell in Galloway until 1682.[4] A study of this surname and its variants can be found at the Guild of One Name Studies.

MacCulloch of Myreton (Galloway)[edit]

Cardoness Castle seat of the MacCullochs of Myreton.

The MacCullochs of Myreton were a Scottish Lowland family who lived in Ardwell, Rhins of Galloway, Wigtownshire overlooking Luce Bay near the Water of Luce. (see location on map on this page). Unlike other MacCulloch families the MacCullochs of Myreton were not septs of another clan but owned their own territory and were later seated at Cardoness Castle. Myreton is in southwest Scotland along the coast. Another MacCulloch region related to Ardwell lies across the bay from Myreton.

An old Galloway legend linked the origins of the family to Cullo O'Neill, believed to have been born in Ireland, a son of the family of O'Neills of Clanaboy. Cullo O'Neill served in the army of Edward Bruce, King of Ireland, brother of king Robert the Bruce of Scotland. In around 1316 he was chosen by Edward Bruce as Captain of horse in his army. He later became Sir Cullo O'Neill. In about 1317 king Robert the Bruce of Scotland knighted Captain Cullo og Neil (o’Neil) and chose him to be his standard-bearer and Secretary of State. King Robert the Bruce granted Sir Cullo og Neil the lands of Achawan or Auchwane in Wigtownshire. In 1331 Sir Cullo Og Neil died and left his estate to his eldest son Sir Godfrey, who assumed the surname of MacCullog. (MacCullough / MacCullo’c).[6]

However, clearer evidence indicates that, like most Gaelic Gallovidians, the early MacCullochs backed the house of Baliol, rather than De Brus, and hence - like other early supporters of independence, such as the MacDougalls and Comyns - were driven towards English service after Robert Bruce seized control of the patriot cause (having himself originally fought for Edward I). The early years of the Bruce ascendancy saw the MacCullochs stripped of many of their Galloway territories, and dispersed as refugees into England. Sir Patrick MacCulloch was an especially principled Baliol supporter, whose loyalty to the cause stood out against the many switches in allegiance among other Scottish knights and magnates of his generation. Sir Patrick served Edward III in his campaigns in Brittany, before finally returning to Scotland and into the king's peace, with half of his estates restored by David II in 1363.[7] The pragmatism of David II - and, perhaps, the subsequent passing of the throne from the Bruces to the Stewarts - enabled the MacCullochs to undergo rapid reintegration into the kingdom of Scotland. Between the later 14th and mid-15th centuries, they were strong allies of the earls of Douglas, who had now acquired the Galloway lordship, witnessing their charters, supplying soldiers and ships of war for their forces, and maintaining places on their council. According to Michael Brown's history of The Black Douglases, MacCullochs were part of the Douglas muster-roll that fought against the English armies at the Battle of Homildon Hill in 1402. John MacCulloch was chancellor to the Countess of Douglas in the 1420s.[8] It was no wonder that Archibald, 4th Earl Douglas, added two Gaelic wild men to his personal coat of arms. Galloway's submission was complete.

Though the power of the Black Douglases fell away in the later fifteenth century, the MacCullochs outlasted their old patrons, and with castles built at Myretoun, Cardoness and Barholm on the Galloway shoreline, the strength of the family became a central part of Scotland's maritime defence. Their influence rose to its height in the career of Sir Alexander MacCulloch (d. 1523), a favourite of King James IV, whom he served as chief falconer, sheriff of Wigtown and captain of the Royal Palace of Linlithgow. In 1507, Sir Alexander ravaged the Isle of Man in revenge for an English raid on the town of Kirkcudbright.[3] The Isle of Man was then in the possession of the Earl of Derby.[3] Sir Alexander's daughter Margaret was married to a kinsman, another Alexander ('Sandy') MacCulloch, who was also part of the royal retinue as a member of the king's guard, and is recorded as archery partner to James IV. At the battle of Flodden, the younger MacCulloch was one of ten men clad in armour identical to the king, in an attempt to confuse the English adversaries. The ruse failed to work - James IV was killed, and so was Sandy MacCulloch.[7]

The power of the MacCullochs on the national stage entered into decline after the reign of James IV. However, the family remained significant within Galloway, and a number of influential landholding branches sprung off the main Myreton line. The McCulloch lairds of Ardwell and Killasser were among the leading Galloway supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots, summoned with the threat of a charge of treason to submit to the regency ruling after her deposition in 1569 and 1571.[9] David, son of Thomas McCulloch of Nether Ardwall was in military service in the Thirty Years War, and settled permanently on the continent; his sons Thomas and Anthony were officers in a British regiment in Spanish service during the War of Devolution (1667-8) against Louis XIV. A second David McCulloch of Nether Ardwall served in the armies of William of Orange before the 1688 Revolution, and then in the British forces in the Nine Years' War (1688–97). In 1715, he was offered but declined a commission in the Jacobite rebel army, commanded by his cousin the sixth Viscount Kenmure.[10] In the earlier part of the seventeenth-century, the brothers John and James McCulloch, younger sons of the McCullochs of Killasser, attained distinction as scholars and physicians, both holding professorial chairs at the University of Pisa, and both serving as physicians-in-ordinary to King James VI/I. John McCulloch had worked previously as physician to the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, who shared his enthusiasm for alchemy and astrology.[11]

On 7 July 1618 William McCulloch of Myreton with the consent of his eldest son Alexander, ratified a charter of Killasser in the barony of Achowane to William Houston and his wife Katherine Vaus. The subscript mentioned a new deed of baronia Killasser and the castle.[12]

The chief of the Clan MacCulloch of Myreton was raised to the rank of Baronet in 1634.[3] However this title ended when Sir Godfrey McCulloch was executed in Edinburgh in 1697 for the murder of William Gordon seven years earlier.[3] This may have been as a result of a fight over some cattle.[4] Sir Godfrey's crime was the beginning of a time of severe misfortune for the Myreton line. The chief's son Captain John McCulloch left a flourishing career in the Grenardier Guards in 1691: probably returning from the continent to support a family cast into penury after flight from justice of the laird.[13] The next chief, Sir Gilbert McCulloch was killed on military service in Flanders in 1704. The representation of the family then passed to the MacCullochs of Ardwell.[3] Killasser Castle, the ancient seat of the MacCulloch of Ardwell, is shown on Ainslie's 1782 map as in ruins.[14]

MacCulloch of Oban (Argyll)[edit]

Another 'clan' of MacCullochs, the MacCullochs of Oban, lived in the vicinity of Oban, Argyll, and the island of Kerrara, on the West coast of Argyll. Here MacCulloch of Colgin was long recognised as the representative of his line. They were said to be descended from a race of MacLulichs who had lived in Benderloch under the Clan MacDougall.[4] Although the Collins Scottish Clan Encyclopedia states that the MacCullochs of Oban were descendants of the MacDougalls themselves.[3]

MacCulloch of Plaidis (Ross-shire)[edit]

Another MacCulloch family, the MacCullochs of Plaidis, established themselves in Easter Ross in the Scottish Highlands by the 14th century. They were first noted as followers of the Earl of Ross and Clan Ross.[4] The family however, are believed to have originated outside the north-east, and there are some unsubstantiated claims of an ancestral connection with the Galloway McCullochs. Certainly, Sir Hugh MacCulloch of Pilton (d. 1688), from the Easter Ross line claimed cousinage with the lairds of Myreton and matriculated arms that advertised the affinity.[15]

Several of the Ross-shire MacCullochs became Canons Regular of the Premonstratensian Order at Fearn Abbey in Ross-shire. In 1486 Angus MacCulloch of Tarell was killed at the Battle of Auldicharish fighting against the Clan Mackay who had long been at feud with the Clan Ross.

In 1497 they aligned themselves as a sept of the Clan Munro in Ross-shire. The family had considerable tenure of lands around Tain. Their principal designation 'of Plaidis' was held until John MacCulloch, Provost of Tain, bought the lands of Kindeace from Munro of Culnald in 1612, after which they became 'of Kindeace'. The provost's descendant Roderick MacCulloch of Plaidis was an officer in the earl of Cromarty's Jacobite regiment in the 1745 rebellion. Incarcerated to the Tower of London, his life was reputedly saved after the intervention of a court noblewoman who had been struck by his courtesy and dignity as the prisoners were conveyed through the City. Other lands held by the Maccullochs in Easter Ross included Piltoun, Mulderg and Easter Drumm, the latter coming into their possession in 1649.

MacCulloch Tartans[edit]

The MacCullochs of Ross-shire, as septs of the Clan Munro and Clan Ross, are permitted to wear either of those clans' tartans and the MacCullochs of Oban, as septs of the Clan MacDougall, may wear their tartan or even the District of Galloway tartan. However the MacCullochs themselves also have their own clan tartan as well as a second "dress" tartan.


  • Cardoness Castle, which was built in the 1470s, was the seat of the MacCullochs of Myreton.
  • Barholm Castle was the seat of a branch of the MacCullochs of Myreton, who became known as the MacCullochs of Barholm.[16]
  • Killaser Castle, another seat of the MacCullochs of Myreton in Ardwell, now in ruins.[17][18]
  • Myreton Castle was another seat of the MacCullochs of Myreton which was built in the 16th century but was sold to the Clan Maxwell in 1685. The castle was built on the site of a 12th-century motte. Today it lies in ruins.[19][20]

Spelling variations[edit]

Although MacCulloch is the most frequently encountered spelling, because few people could write centuries ago, the spelling of the name has varied. This may mean that even members of the same family may have spelled their names differently. Spelling variations include:

  • Culloch
  • Gulloch
  • McCulloch
  • McCullough
  • MacCoulaghe
  • McCullagh
  • MacChullach
  • MacAlach
  • MacCullaich
  • MacCullough
  • MacClullich
  • MacLullich
  • MacLullick
  • MacCullaich
  • McCulla
  • MacCulla
  • MacCullow
  • McCollough
  • McColloch
  • McCoulough
  • McCully
  • McCulley
  • McCullah
  • McCullow
  • McCullar
  • McCuller
  • McCullers
  • McCullick
  • McCallick
  • McCulloch
  • McCullogh
  • McCullock
  • McCulligh
  • McCulloh
  • McCollough

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clan MacCulloch Profile Retrieved 23 March 2014.
  2. ^ "Cardoness Castle". Historic Scotland. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j 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 430 - 431.
  4. ^ a b c d e MacCulloch Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  5. ^ Andrew McCulloch, Galloway. A Land Apart (2000).
  6. ^ An index, drawn up about the year 1629, of many records of charters, granted by the different sovereigns of Scotland between the years 1309 and 1413, most of which records have been long missing Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  7. ^ a b Walter Jameson McCulloch, History of the Galloway Families of McCulloch.
  8. ^ Michael Brown, The Black Douglases (1998).
  9. ^ Sir Andrew Agnew, The Hereditary Sheriffs of Galloway (1893)
  10. ^ Walter Jameson McCulloch, History of the Galloway Families of McCulloch
  11. ^ W.J. McCulloch, A History of the Galloway Families of McCulloch
  12. ^ Registrum magni sigilli regum Scotorum The register of the Great seal of Scotland, A.D. 1306-1668 Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland. Volume Five. pp.308-309 Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  15. ^ R.C. Reid, "Some letters of Captain James Gordon, last of Craichlaw," Dumfries and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 3rd ser., 24 (1945-6)
  16. ^ Barholm Castle.
  17. ^ Killaser Castle, Cairnhandy at Geograph/
  18. ^ Killaser Castle Archived 13 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine at ScotlandsPlaces.
  19. ^ Myrton Castle at Gazetteer for Scotland.
  20. ^ Castle Photos from Scotland Archived 7 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine by Eleanor.

External links[edit]

Clan McCulloch | Clan Society Project