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Clan MacDougall are a chiefly Scottish family associated with Argyll.


The Clan MacDougall takes its name from Dougall, the son of Somerled who was killed at the Battle of Renfrew in 1164. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia (Barnes and Noble, 1994) 216</ref> After Somerled's death, Dougall held most of Argyll as well as the islands of Mull, Lismore, Jura, Tiree, Coll and others. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref>

The Celtic first name Dougall, or Dugald is derived from the Gaelic dubh-gall, which means black stranger.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref> 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'.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref>

The Celtic christian name Dougall, or Dugald is derived from the Gaelic 'dubh-gall' meaning 'black stranger'.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref> This was possibly to distinguish darker haired Danes from the fair-haired Norwegians. <ref>David Dorward, Collins Dictionary of Scottish Surnames (Harper Collins, 1995, 2000) 208</ref>

Outside the chiefly family, MacDougalls were also found in Galloway and Kirkudbright. <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 210</ref> It sometimes became McCoull and even Cole. <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 210</ref> Sir Dugald M'Dowille was sheriff of Dumfries in 1312. <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 210</ref> The name spread to Ireland with Galloglass soldiers and the Irish version became MacDowell, as evidenced by the village of Lismacdowell in Co. Rosscommon.<ref>Dorward, Surnames, 210</ref>

Middle Ages

Artist's impression of the Battle of Largs (1263)

The son and grandson of the first chief built castles to defend their lands which included Dunstaffnage, Dunollie, Cairnburgh and Dunchonnel. Dunollie had probably been fortified as early as the seventh century and became their main seat.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref> Duncan also built Ardchattan Priory, where the chiefs were buried until 1737. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref>

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.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref> This made it hard for him to remain loyal to both. 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. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref>

However Ewan decided not join the invasion and thanks to old blood ties Haakon left him in peace. However, seeing that neutrality would lead to disaster, he attacked part of the Norse fleet near Mull. The Vikings were defeated at the Battle of Largs and three years later all of the Hebrides were ceded to Scotland.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref>

The influence of Clan MacDougall in Argyll brought them into conflict with the Campbells. In 1294 there were considerable losses on both sides as the result of the Battle of the Red Ford in Lorn<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref>

Conflict with Bruce

The MacDougall's influence in Argyll brought them into conflict with the Clan Campbell.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref> 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.

Dunollie Castle

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 a disastrous conflict with the Bruces. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 217</ref>

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. 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.

However the Clan MacDougall surprised Bruce and defeated him in what was known as the Battle of Dalrigh.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref>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.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref>

Three years later Robert the Bruce led three thousand battle hardened veterans into Argyll against the MacDougalls.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref> 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.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref> The MacDougall's lands were then forfeited by the king and he gave them to the Campbells for their loyalty.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref>

The chief, Iain Bacach, sailed to England to support King Edward I and his navy against Bruce and his naval allies from Clan Donald. <ref> 16th June 2014</ref> He attacked Bruce's ships for a further ten yearS but was finally defeated by Clan Donald and King Robert.<ref> 16th June 2014</ref> Iain Bacach died in 1318 while on a pilgrimage to Canterbury.<ref> 16th June 2014)</ref>

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.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref> Most of their mainland lands were returned in a royal charter from David II of Scotland.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 216</ref>

On the death of Ewan MacDougall in 1375 he was surivived by two daughters, leading to the title of Lordship of Lorn passing to the Stewarts. Further lands were however restored to the clan in 1451.<ref> 16th June 2014)</ref>

Gylen Castle

Seventeenth Century

The clan's support for the royalist side during the War of the Three Kingdoms brought Clan MacDougall into conflict with other powerful clans, notably the MacDonalds and the Campbells. In 1645 Alexander MacDougall led five hundred clansmen into battle. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 217</ref>

In 1647 an army under General Leslie was sent to Argyll to take on the royalist clans.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 217</ref> This force massacred the defenders of Dunaverty castle in Kintyre, raided royalist lands, and laid siege to the MacDougall’s Gylen and Dunollie castles.<ref> 16th June 2014)</ref>

The Brooch of Lorn was looted by one of the men burning Gylen Castle on the isle of Kerrera. His descendants kept the stolen brooch hidden for 177 years. It was believed to have been forever lost until in 1824 it was sold and returned to its rightful owners, the MacDougall Chiefs.<ref> 16th June 2014)</ref>

With the restoration of the monarchy the MacDougall lands were again restored.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 217</ref>


The clan fought for Viscount Dundee at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1688.<ref> 16th June 2014)</ref> The twenty-second chief, Iain Ciar fought for the Jacobites in 1715 at the Battle of Sheriffmuir.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 217</ref>

He was later forced into exile and then lived in Scotland as fugitive, but was eventually pardoned in 1727.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 217</ref> His son, Alexander was certainly a Jacobite sympathiser, but did not take part in the 1745 rebellion, although other clansmen did. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 217</ref>

Twenty MacDougalls were listed as prisoners of the Government forces after Culloden including three from the lowlands.<ref> 16th June 2014)</ref>

Eighteenth Century

Dunollie House

Alexander MacDougall built a more modern manor house behind Dunollie Castle in 1745. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 217</ref>

Nineteenth Century

Vice Admiral Sir John MacDougall of Macdougall extended the house. He had a distinguished naval career and promoted the development of Oban as a port.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 217</ref> Three of his sons became chiefs in succession.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 217</ref>


The current chief is Morag Morley MacDougall of MacDougall (b.1939).<ref> 16th June 2014)</ref>

There are two active clan societies, one for Europe, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland and one for North America. <ref></ref> <ref></ref>

An international clan gathering, held in Scotland, is planned for 2014. <ref></ref>

Chiefly family and major septs

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 of MacDougall and Dunollie, d. 1990, herself the daughter of Colonel Alexander James MacDougall of MacDougall and Dunollie.

Stewart MacDougall of Lunga (d.1915)

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.

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.

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, 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. He succeeded his father, Rear-Admiral John MacDougall, of Ardencaple (died 1870), a Captain Commandant of the 1st Easdale Argyll Artillery Volunteers.

Dependent or linked families

Lunga House

According to the Clan MacDougall Society (Gt. Britain, Eire, Europe) the following names are dependents, septs, or historically linked to the clan.<ref> (accessed 16th June 2014)</ref>

MacDougall Tartan
  • Carmichael
  • Cowan
  • Livingston
  • Mac Cowan
  • Mac Dowell
  • Mac Eachem
  • Mac Lucas
  • Mac Namell
  • Conacher
  • Cowie
  • Mac Conacher
  • Mac Culloch
  • Mac Dulothe
  • Mac Howell
  • Mac Lugash
  • Macoul
  • Coull
  • Dowall
  • Mac Coull
  • Mac Dole
  • Mac Eachan
  • Kichan
  • Mac Lulich
  • Macowl