The Clan MacArthur

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Tradition and folklore hold that the name MacArthur is one of the oldest in the Argyll Highlands, so ancient as to make modern research difficult. They had resided there so long that, even in Celtic days, they were the subject of a celebrated couplet:
"The hills and streams and MacAlpin,
but whence came forth MacArthur?"
There is some uncertainty whether our forebears sprang from Cormac MacArt, third-century king of Ireland, whose descendants spread to what is now known as Argyll, or from later ancestors. However, we do know that our early kinsmen supported one of Scotland's great heroes, Robert the Bruce, in his struggle for Scotland's independence in the early 14th century.
After Bruce's success at the battle of the Pass of Brander in 1308, the MacArthurs were given large grants of land in Argyll. The Clan remained a powerful force until 1427 when our then Chief, Iain (or John), "a leader of a thousand men" was beheaded by King James I of Scotland. Iain and other clan chiefs opposed James' policy of a strong central government for Scotland, which they feared would lead to the dissolution of the ancient clan system.

This attempt by James to eliminate his opposition so enraged many Highland clans that a year later Alexander of the Isles marched on Inverness with 10,00 men and destroyed it.

Following the tragedy of 1427, the power of the MacArthurs was greatly reduced, and many Clan members left the area. Some settled in the Western Isles where they became celebrated pipers. Several MacArthur names holding prominent positions appear in the 15th century annals of Argyll. This leads historians to believe some MacArthurs had regained lands they lost following the tragedy of 1427.

Many MacArthurs left Scotland after the infamous Battle of Culloden in 1746 and settled in the New World. Their descendants today continue to keep the MacArthur name both respected and honored.


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