MacNab ancestors

Christina MacDonell (MacNab) 1816-1906
Christina Macdonell (née MacNab) 1816-1906

I have been trying to trace my MacNab ancestry. My great great great grandmother was Christina McNab. The portrait above and photograph below were kindly sent to me by my relative Charles Daniel. Christina is referred to by the Reverends Macdonald in their The Clan Donald book as “well known as a highly cultured Highland lady”. She married Angus Macdonell, the disputed 20th/22nd Chief of Keppoch, in about 1835.

Christina and Angus were cousins and both descended from Alexander, the Keppoch Chief who fell at Culloden (see more here about their common ancestry). According to Melville Henry Massue Ruvigny Et Raineval’s The Jacobite Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage, and Grants of Honour, Extracted … they were married in Sherrobeg on 17th August 1835, and Christina was only daughter of John MacNab of Shenaghart in Kintyre, and Sherrobeg in Badenoch.

As mentioned, elsewhere I have not been able to locate Shenaghart in Kintyre, which might also be called Sheughiart or Shenaghairt, but it’s possibly found in the former parish of Kilberrie. Sherrobeg in Badendoch is possibly now submerged under a reservoir, but I think I have found a ruin by what was the former Sherrobeg bridge (see more here).

There’s a number of sources showing that John MacNab married Jessie Macdonald, including a record on for their marriage on the 16 Jun 1801 in Laggan, Inverness, Scotland.

The entry in Alexander Mackenzie’s History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles; with genealogies of the principal families of the name below explains that Jessie was the daughter of Alexander Macdonald of Garvabeg and Charlotte MacDonald (the youngest daughter of Alexander, the Keppoch Chief who fell at Culloden). Interestingly, the entry also mentions that John MacNab, was “a cadet of the family of Innisewen”.

Alexander married Jessie, daughter of Robert Stewart of Appin, by his second wife, a daughter of Robert Campbell of Lochnell, with issue —

8. Charlotte, who, between 1775 and 1776, married  Alexander Macdonald of Garvabeg, son of the Rev.  Patrick Macdonald, her sister’s husband, by his first wife, a  daughter of Mackintosh of Balnespick, with issue — Jessie,  who married John MacNab, a cadet of the family of Innisewen, with issue — a daughter, Christina, who on the 17th of July, 1835, married Angus, grandson of Angus Ban of Inch, with issue.

The RCAHMS database lists the The Suie, the Macnabs of Innishewan Burial Enclosure. I found a reference on The Hazel Tree site which says there’s an inscription there saying:

Built by Iohn Macnab, posesser of Inishoane 1759

They assume that the ‘Inishoane’ refers to Innisewen, a farm just across the river on the other side of the glen. However, I have been unable to find out any more about John MacNab’s ancestors in Laggan, or from Innisewen. What I have found is records on the site for the following children of John Mcnab and Jessie Macdonald all born in Laggan, Inverness, Scotland:

  1. Duncan McNab: 24 Feb 1805
  2. Alexander McNab: 29 Jan 1806
  3. John McNab: 29 Apr 1807
  4. Archibald McNab: 25 Mar 1809
  5. Charlotte McNab: 16 Dec 1810
  6. Ronald McNab: 29 Aug 1812
  7. Francis McNab: 09 Jan 1815
  8. Christian McNab: 09 Nov 1816 (I think this must be Christina because gender is female)
  9. Allan McNab: 02 Dec 1820

Angus Macdonald’s The clan Donald (Volume 3), includes more information about the family:

2. Jessie, who married John Macnab of the Inneshewen family, who held the property of Shenaghart, in Kintyre, and had

(a) Duncan, W.S., Edinburgh, who died unmarried
(b) John, who married, with issue
(c) Alexander
(d) Archibald
(e) Ranald
(f) Francis, who married and had issue
(g) Charlotte, who died young
(h) Christina, who married her cousin Angus Macdonald, Keppoch, with issue.

This pretty much tallies with the site although it doesn’t mention Allan. I found it interesting that Duncan was a Writer of the Signet in Edinburgh. Angus and Christina’s daughter Theresa (my great great grandother) married George ‘Keith’ Maitland. His father was George Ramsay Maitland and also a Writer of the Signet in Edinburgh. Perhaps this is how Keith and Thersa met. I also found a death notice for Ronald in the Sydney Morning Herald (8 September 1873) while searching for Sherrobeg:

On the 27th June, at Keppoch House, Lochaber, N. B., RONALD fourth son of the late JOHN MACNAB, of Sherrobeg, Badenoch, Invernesshire, N.B.

It seems like Ronald was living with his sister Christina after Angus’s death in 1855. He’d caught smallpox whilst caring for the victims of an epidemic in Glasgow.
That’s about as much as I know about my MacNab ancestors, and I can’t seem to get back any further.
I have, however, found some other MacDonald/Macdonell and MacNab connections:
  1. Clementine Macdonell was the daughter of my ancestor Alexander, the Keppoch Chief who fell at Culloden.
  2. There are different accounts of who she married.Her entry in The Jacobite Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage, and Grants of Honour, Extracted … by Melville Henry Massue Ruvigny Et Raineval includes her first marrying a Buchanan, and then a Macdonald of Dalness.
  3. In Alexander Mackenzie’s History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles; with genealogies of the principal families of the name she’s referred to as Clementina and marrying a MacNab of Innisewen, but not the Buchanon or Macdonald of Dalness.I’ve also found a Clementine Macdonald on The Peerage site who is the daughter of Alexander Macdonald (died 30 January 1761), 7th of Glenaladale and Margaret Macdonell. She married Alexander McNab of Innishewen. But I can’t find the common ancestry between this branch of the Glenaladale Macdonalds and my Keppoch ancestors. I can’t help wondering if these different sources are getting their Alexander and Clementine/Clementina’s confused?
  4. There’s other marriages between Macdonalds and MacNab’s mentioned in The Clan Donald by the Reverends Angus and Archibald MacDonald. They express an indebtedness to my great great great aunt Miss Josephine M. Macdonell, as do many other authors of books on the Clan.
  5. The Reverend Macdonalds book also contains information about another MacNab of Innisewen connection. Angus Ban, was the eldest and natural son of Alexander, the Keppoch Chief who fell at Culloden. The Reverend Macdonalds explain, probably with Josephine’s help, how Angus fought by his father’s side at Culloden, and with difficulty escaped with his life, being hotly pursued by the Hanoverian troops. He apparently attended the meeting of the chiefs held at Achnacarry on the 8th of May – remaining afterwards for a long time in hiding, and with MacNab of Innisewen assisted the Prince in his wanderings.
I wondered whether this MacNab of Innisewen was a close relative of my ancestor John MacNab, then again my Macdonald/Macdonell and MacNab ancestors seemed to have lived in quite close proximity. Would be great to find out more.

2 thoughts on “MacNab ancestors

  1. Hi Justin, having recently had my family tree done I believe that you are my 5th cousin. My 4x Great Grandfather was John McNab of Shenaghart. I can tell you that Allan McNab born 1820 in Laggan died 24 June 1896 in Renfrew, Horton, Ontario, Canada. I believe he had 6 children John, Mary, Janet, Annie, Allan and Jeannie. I’m still searching for more information on decendants of Allan in Canada. So far I have only been able to find out that his son Allan had a daughter Marjorie who has now passed. If I can help you with anything regarding the McNab side of the family then just let me know.


    Geri McNab

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