Pettition for recognising former Keppoch Chiefs

I’ve recently been in touch with the Chamberlain of the The High Council of Clan Donald. I mentioned that my great great great grandfather was Angus Macdonnell of Keppoch who married Christina McNab of Shenaghairt in 1835, they were both great grandchildren of Alexander (Alastair) Macdonnell, 1st Bt, who died at Culloden. Angus was the grandson of Angus Ban on Inch, the natural son of ‘Alexander of Culloden‘ (above), and also grandson of Barbara Macdonnell of Keppoch, the daughter of ‘Alexander of Culloden’. Christina was the granddaughter of Charlotte Macdonnell of Keppoch, youngest daughter of Alexander of Culloden.

It’s just that as mentioned in previous posts The Jacobite Peerage (1904) by Melville Henry Marquis of Ruvigny & Raineval shows here that the Chiefship of Keppoch devolved to his cousin Angus Macdonell (above) after the death in 1838 of Sir Chicester Macdonell, 6th Bt. Barbara Macdonnell of Keppoch and Charlotte Macdonnell of Keppoch were co-heirs of Sir Alexander Macdonnel, 1st Bt.

There are other sources that recognise this including: Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage (1968), and Burke’s Peerage under “Maitland”, and Burke’s Landed Gentry (1937) under “Macdonell of Keppock”. However, this former Keppoch Cheifship no longer seems to be recognised by Clan Donald although it seems to have no bearing on the claim surrounding the current Chiefship, given that Angus Macdonnell of Keppoch’s son Donald died without issue. I also seems that Angus Ban on Inch is also no longer considered to have been 17th Chief of Keppoch, despite family history showing that he was recognised as Chief until his brother Sir Ranald Macdonnell of Keppoch, 2nd Bt., came of age:

“This Angus [Ban on Inch] was born in Skye, 21st July 1726, and on his father’s [Sir Alexander Macdonnell of Keppoch, 1st Bt.] death at Culloden assumed the leadership of the clan, who was one of the 8 chiefs who on 8th May 1746 entered into a mutual bond never to lay down their arms without consent of the whole, and meanwhile raise as many men for the Prince, … Angus remained in hiding for some time near Loch Treig, and afterwards accompanied the Prince through some of his perilous wonderings.”

The Jacobite Peerage by Melville Henry, 1904, p.94

It struck me that clearly Angus Ban was quite clearly not only important leader in the history of the clan, but also recognised by his clan, the future Keppoch chief, the other chiefs supporting Charles Edward Stuart (Teàrlach Eideard Stiùbhairt) and the bonnie Prince himself. So I wanted to petition The High Council of Clan Donald to have Angus Ban of Inch, his grandson Angus Macdonnell of Keppoch and his son Donald Macdonnell of Keppoch recognised as former Chiefs of Keppoch as they were by both their clan in their day, as well as by other noble clans.

To his credit I received a very charming email from the Chamberlain of The High Council of Clan Donald, who thought my email was of interest and one which he’d forward to the Clan Historian Norman H.MacDonald, who has written a book on the Keppoch Family and is himself of the Clan. That’s more than I can say about the current Keppoch Chief who has ignored my emails.

I was simply trying to honour my ancestors here, rather than enter into any dispute about the current Chiefship. I believed a great injustice has been done as far as the recognition of their Chiefship and simply wanted ask the council to let me state my case on the matter for consideration.

Maybe I should have marched up and confronted the retired hearing aid practitioner and demanded that the matter should be settled once and far all the old fashioned way rather than by some wig wearing jessies in a court room ;-)

Joking aside, I’ve subsequently done a little more digging and actually found an article about the The Chiefship of Keppoch by the Clan Historian. It’s prior to the 2004 Court of Session acceptance of Ranald Alasdair MacDonald’s petition to be recognised as the rightful heir to the Chiefship of Keppoch (see here). It mentions that several individuals or their families have claimed to represent Keppoch but none of them took steps to press their alleged claims in the Court of Lord Lyon until the recent claim. It seems to echo remarks made about the rejection of the female line and the worthy illegitimate one made in another article about ‘Keppoch Lines’ by D. Rory MacDonald.

This probably explains why my great great great grandfather Angus Macdonell (great grandson of Alexander of Culloden) and his son Donald are mentioned as former chiefs in the likes of Debretts, Burkes, etc, but are not recognised formerly as being so by the Clan Donald. It, therefore, seems to be pointless to petition for the recognition of their Chiefship unless there was some historical evidence that suggests that their Chiefship was widely recognised at the time rather being cited from the books on the clan by my great great great Josephine M. Macdonell of Keppoch.

I think the recognition of Angus Ban as a former chief is a slightly different matter. It’s just that there does seem to be some historical evidence which suggests that he led the clan through difficult and important historical times after the death of his father at Culloden despite his illegitimacy, and this was recognised by his brother the subsequent Chief, the clan, other notable chiefs and the bonnie Prince himself.

However, I doubt the The High Council of Clan Donald have much appetite for petitions, or even discussions, about former Keppoch chiefs given all the hoo-hah about the current Chief. So I think it’s probably prudent to let sleeping dogs lie but it would be great to speak to the Clan Historian as not only his he a fellow kinsman, but as written a great deal about my ancestors.

I’m also hoping that there maybe some appetite for some Poetry at the Clan Gathering, it would be honour to read a poem by my great great aunt Alice C. Macdonnell of Keppoch, Bardess to Clan Macdonald. Perhaps the one To The Clan Donald would be most appropriate.


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