Cadets of Clan MacDonald of Keppoch

Macdonald of Keppoch Cadet Family Trail

The Wikipedia entry for the Clan MacDonald of Keppoch lists the following ‘Principal Cadet Families’:  Aberarder, Achnancoichean, Bohuntine, Clianaig, Cranachan, Dalchosnie, Fersit, Gellovie, Inch, Inverroy, Killiechonate, Murlagan, Tirnadris, Tulloch, Tullochrom. As part of trying to discover where my ancestors hailed from I’ve ended locating these places. I may end up visiting some of them, but at the moment I mapped the places out on StreetMap on my fantasy ancestry road trip to the highlands:

There’s amazing scenery and landmarks to see in the area, as well as a fascinating history, much of a bit bloody. I’ve added a few interesting things I have found out so far, which I’ve clustered around the cadet families that lived near to each other. I’ve also included the opening sections on the cadet families from The Clan Donald: Volume 3 by the Revs. Angus & Archibald Macdonald (1904), which are mostly genealogical. This is only my first stab, so what I hope to do at another time is to link the family stories to the actual geography as it would give my fantasy ancestry road trip some context.


Keppoch Macdonald cadet families of Keppoch, Clianaig (Chlinaig) and Inch (Insh)

I’ve started with Keppoch House near Roy Bridge in the Parish of Kilmonivaig, Inverness-shire, close to where the River Roy meets the River Spean.

Keppoch House, Parish of Kilmonivaig, Inverness-shire

As mentioned in an earlier post, the house is still standing and it’s where my great great great grandparents Angus McDonnell of Keppoch, the disputed 20th/22nd Chief, and Christina MacNab lived and where my great great grandmother Christina Mary Theresa McDonnell was born in 1845.

I’ve written recently about how Doug helped me discovered the farm the farm at Inch or Insh recently (see here), so suffice to say it was the home of my ancestor Aonghus Ban Innse of Inch, ‘Tacksman of Inch’. I also found Clianaig or Chlinaig nearby. Hopefully, I’ll find out more about both families and places. In the meantime, here are some genealogical snippets from the Revs. Macdonald The Clan Donald book:

Alexander, known as Alastair Carrach, the progenitor of the family of KejDpoch, was the fourth son of John, Lord of the Isles, and the Princess Margaret of Scotland. He married Mary, daughter of Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, by whom he had Angus, his successor. MacVurich is in error in saying that Angus was a natural son of Alexander by a daughter of MacPhee of Lochaber. In two charters by John, Earl of E-oss and Lord of the Isles, of the years 1463 and 1464 respectively, Angus, who was a witness on both occasions, is designated a lawful son of Alexander. Alexander, who was styled Lord of Lochaber, died about 1440, and was succeeded by his son…

This family is descended from Angus Ban, eldest son of Alexander Macdonald XVII. of Keppoch, the issue, as already stated, of an irregular union formed by Alexander before his marriage to Jessie Stewart of Appin. He was twenty-one years of age when his father fell at Culloden, after which he took his place at the head of the family, a position which he retained for some time after his brother, Ranald, came of age. Angus fought by his father’s side at Culloden, and with difficulty escaped with his life, being hotly pursued by the Hanoverian troops. He attended the meeting of the chiefs held at Achnacarry on the 8th of May. He remained afterwards for a long time in hiding, and with MacNab of Innisewen assisted the Prince in his wanderings. Angus married, in 1752, Christina, daughter of Archibald Macdonald of Achnancoichean, and had by her…

This family is descended from Donald Gorm, son of Alastair Buidhe XIV. of Keppoch. He is among the followers of Coll of Keppoch in 1691. He married a daughter of Allan Macdonald of Gellovie, and had…


Keppoch Macdonald cadet families of Bonhuntin & Cranachan

Funnily enough it was a comment from Doug on my fantasy ancestry road trip to the highlands post about Cranachan farm that set this project in motion. He also helped me find Inch/Insh farm above. Would be interesting to find out more about these the Cranachan and Bohuntine families, but here’s snippets from the Revs. Macdonald The Clan Donald book.

The family of Bohuntin is descended from John DUBH, third son of Ranald VII. of Keppoch. He is frequently mentioned in record as playing a prominent part in the affairs of the House of Keppoch in the stirring time in which he lived. He was, undoubtedly, a great warrior, and his romantic life and hairbreadth escapes were the theme of song and story for many generations in Lochaber. The remarkable poetic talent which distinguished many of his descendants has preserved many pictures in verse of the early days of feud and foray. John Dubh is said to have been a man of noble appearance, ready wit, and great capacity as a leader of men. His prowess at Bothloine has been already referred to in the first volume of this work. In 1587 he is, with others, prohibited, at the instance of the Privy Council, from gathering in arms. In 1594 he, with his nephew, Alexander Macdonald of Keppoch, joined the Earl of Huntly, and took part in the Battle of Glenlivet, where Argyle, the King’s Lieutenant, was defeated. He is afterwards accused of taking part in a herschip and fireraising at Moy. In December, 1602, he and Allan and Angus, his sons, are denounced rebels for not appearing personally before the Privy Council to answer for the herschip of Moy and other crimes. It has been said, on the authority of tradition, that John Dubh was not a lawful son of Ranald of Keppoch, but tradition has been found to have been invariably very wide of the mark when looked at in the light of authentic documentary evidence. There are many references on record to John Dubh which are many references on record to John Dubh which might be taken as implying legitimate descent in the strictest sense, but in an original document in the Charter Chest of Lord Macdonald, to which several members of the Keppoch family were parties, it is expressly stated that he was the third lawful son of Ranald Macdonald Glass of Keppoch. John Dubh married a daughter of Donald Glass Mackintosh, referred to in several manuscript genealogies
as of Dunachtan. By her he had…

The first of this family was Angus, third son of Donald I. of Aberarder. He is frequently mentioned in record. He married a daughter of Macdonald of Achnancoichean, and had…


Keppoch Macdonald cadet families of Aberarder, Tullochrom (Tullochroam) and Gellovie (Gallovie)

I took me at while to locate Aberarder, Tullochrom (Tullochroam) and Gellovie (Gallovie) because they are further away from Roybridge around Loch Laggan. Luckily, I saw a forum discussion mentioning that Gellovie was on the south side of Loch Laggan. I also the found a map of the Clan Lands of Laggan (1775-1800) on the Clan Macpherson Association site that showed that the farms of Aberarder and Tullochrom on the north side of Loch Laggan, and were formerly occupied by MacDonalds:

clan_lands_in_lagganI know little more than this at present, but have included maps and snippets from the Revs. Macdonald The Clan Donald book below:

Keppoch MacDonald cadet family of Aberader

This family is descended from Donald, second son of Angus Macdonald of Tullocb, second son of John Dubh of Bohuntin. Donald first appears on record as of Invervudden. He fought at Inverlochy in 1645, and was a poet of some reputation in his day. Fragments of his hunting songs are still extant. He married first a daughter of Alexander Macdonald of Inverlair ; secondly, a daughter of Alexander Macdonald of Tirnadrish ; and thirdly, a daughter of Alexander Macdonald of Bohuntin. He had..

Keppoch Macdonald cadet family of Tullochrom (Tullochroam)

Alastair Ban, the second son of John III. of Aberarder, was the first of this family. He married, first, a daughter of Mackintosh of Balnespick, and had by her…

Keppoch Macdonald cadet family of Gellovie (Gallovie)

The first of this family was Allan, son of John Dubh Macdonald of Bohuntin. He is mentioned in record in 1602. He was then tenant of Gellovie, which lies along the banks of Loch Laggan. The family afterwards obtained a feu charter of the lands of Gellovie. Allan married a daughter of Macqueen of Corybrugh, by whom he had his successor,…


Keppoch Macdonald cadet family of Fersit

This is all I have so far on the Keppoch Macdonalds of Fersit:

The first of this family was Donald, third son of Ranald Og IX. of Keppoch. He is mentioned in record in 16 12. He is in possession of the lands of Fersit in 1620. He had three sons…


Keppoch Macdonalds of Tulloch, Mùrlagan & Achnancoichean (Achnacochine)

My ancestor Angus Ban of Inch or Aonghus Ban Innse mentioned above, married Christina Macdonald, of Achnacoichine. She was the daughter of Angus Macdonald, 4th of Achnacoichine.

The Gaelic scholar and teacher Effie Rankin explains in her book As A’ Bhraighe: The Gaelic Songs of Alan The Ridge MacDonald 1794-1868 (2005) mentions that Achnacoichine is derived from from Achadh nan Cothaichean, the ‘Field of the Disputants’, but there are many forms of this name are common Achadh nan Comhican and Achadh nan Coinnicchine.

As mentioned in my Keppochs of Achnacochine or Achnancoichean post, I found a reference on the Clan Cameron Reference Guide below that made help me that Achnancoichean was another variation of Achnacochine:


“Field of the Disputants.”  This location was once a favored rendezvous place for cattle reivers, while on their way to foras in either Perthshire or Strathspey.  Located southeast of Achluachrach, in the Braes of Lochaber.

There are ruins located at Achnacochine on StreetMap, and I also manged to find Tulloch and Mùrlagan near by.

I’ve included the opening sections on Keppoch Macdonalds of Tulloch, Mùrlagan and Achnancoichean (Achnacochine) cadet families below from The Clan Donald: Volume 3 by the Revs. Angus & Archibald Macdonald (1904):

This family is descended from Angus, fifth son of Alastair nan Cleas X. of Keppoch, who gave him as a hostage to the Earl of Argyll in 1595. There was another family at Aclmancoichean, descended, according to MacVurich, from John Cam, a natural son of Sir Alexander Macdonald of Lochalsh, known as ” Sliochd an larla,” no doubt on account of their descent from Alexander, Earl of Ross. Angus is said to have married a daughter of Sir james Macdonald of Dunnyveg…

This family is descended from Angus, second son of John Dubh Macdonald of Bohuntin. His first appearance in record is in 1592, when, with a number of others of the Kej)poch following, he is accused of “manifest oppression and slaughter.” In 1602 he is denounced rebel for not appearing personally before the Privy Council to answer for his sharen the herschip of Moy. In 1611, Alexander Macdonald of Keppoch became surety for him ” under the pain of 500 merks.” In 1615, he is declared rebel for not appearing to answer to the charge of assisting Sir James Macdonald of Dunnyveg, and again in 1617 he is declared rebel and put to the horn.

This family is descended from Alastair nan Cleas X. of Keppoch, whose fourth son, Donald Gorm of Inveroy, was the j)i’Ogenitor of the family of Murlagan. There was another family afterwards at Murlagan which was of earlier descent. In 1727 one of this family had been put in possession of the lands of Murlagan by Mackintosh. In that year there is an Obligation by Angus Macdonald of Murlagan to Mackintosh, in which he declares that his predecessors had been standard-bearers to Mackintosh
” these three hundred years and upwards.”
This Angus further declares that he is of Sliochd
Dhomhnuill ‘ic Aongliids, the descendants of the
deposed Chief of Keppoch.


Keppoch Macdonalds of Inverroy, Killiechonate, and Tirinadris

The Inverroy, Killiechonate, and Tirnadris or Tirindrish cadet families of Macdonalds of Keppoch cadet families are based around Spean Bridge and Inverroy. I know next to nothing about these Keppoch Macdonald/Macdonell families although the claim to the current chiefship of the Macdonald of Keppoch clan is based on sloinneadh showing a descendancy from Donald MacDonald or Domhnaill an Drobhair (‘Donald the Drover’) to Donald Gorm of Inverroy Mor through his son Alexander Macdonell, of Inveroy Mor. Donald Gorm was son of Alasdair Macdonell or Macdonald, Tutor of Keppoch, later 14th of Keppoch who was possibly drowned in River Spean.

The Clan MacFarlane has the following notes on Alasdair Buidhe Macdonald, 14th of Keppoch:

Alasdair Buidhe (yellow haired), who was the Tutor of Keppoch, became the unopposed chief after the murder of the young chiefs. In the Royal Commission, granted July 1665, to proceed against the murderers two of his sons were named. A band of 50 warriors arrived in the Braes of Lochaber in September of 1665, two years after the murders. They surprised Sliochd Dhughaill (Macdonalds of Inverlair) at Inverlair and after a bloody fight Alasdair Ruadh MacDughaill and six of his relatives were killed. lain Lom cut off the heads and ordered the seven headless bodies to be buried on a knoll opposite the house of Inverlair. (The skeletons of the bodies were unearthed in this century and no skulls were found.) The two sons of Alasdair Buidhe avoided capture. The elder, Ailein Dearg, had fled, some say to Lewis, others say to Badenoch. There is one story that has him killed at Tulloch. The younger son, Donald Gorm’s, name appears among those against whom legal proceedings were begun in 1671 for the 1663 murders. Keppoch was summoned, among others, before the Privy Council on 15 January, 1669 for using violence against a company of soldiers sent to assist in collecting the taxes. He is said to have drowned in the River Spean the same year. He was succeeded by his second son Archibald, also called Gilleasbuig.

Source: Ceapach: The Keppoch Newsletter by Joyce Haskell in turn edited from Clan Ranald of Lochaber by Norman H Macdonald FSA Scot

Well of Heads (Tobar nan Ceann)

The RCAHMS Camore database, explains that The Well of Heads (Tobar nan Ceann) monument, was erected 1812 by Col. Alasdair Ranaldson Macdonell, 15th Chief of Glengarry, in commemoration of the ‘foul’ Keppoch murders of 1663:

The Keppoch Murders are one of the best known incidents in a string of bloodthirsty inter-clan hostilities. The assumed perpetrator of the murder of the young chief Alasdair Macdonell and his brother at Keppoch in 1663 was their uncle, tacksman of Inverlair. Reprisals taken with the be-heading of him and his six sons at Inverlair on the orders of Macdonald of Sleat. The Monument marks the site of a spring or well at which the heads were washed before being presented to the Chief, Macdonell of Glengarry, at Invergarry Castle.

The inscription on the monument reads:

As a memorial of the ample and summary vengeance which in the swift course of feudal justice, inflicted by the orders of the Lord McDonnell and Aross, overtook the perpetrators of the foul murder of the Keppoch family, a branch of the powerful and illustrious clan, of which His Lordship was the chief. This monument is erected by Colonel McDonnell of Glengarry XVII. MacMhicAlaister his successor and representative in the year of our Lord 1812. The heads of the seven murderers were presented at the feet of the noble chief in Glengarry Castle, after having been washed in this spring: and ever since that event, which took place early in the sixteenth century, it has been known by the name of “Tobar-nan-Ceann”, or the Well of the Seven Heads.

Well Of Heads Monument

For those less bloodthirsty, the Scotland Pilgrim Journeys site mentions the St Columba Journey from Maillaig to Spean Bridge/Inverroy. Think I’d rather take the Jacobite Steam Railway from Fort William to Maillaig though, and its appearance in the Harry Potter movie might be enough for me to persuade my wife and kids to come with me.

There’s no entry for the Keppoch Macdonalds of Inverroy in The Clan Donald: Volume 3 by the Revs. Angus & Archibald Macdonald (1904), but I found the following entries for the Killiechonate, and Tirnadrish (Tirinadris) cadet families:

This family, which branched out early from the main line of Keppoch, is probably descended fiom Donald Glass, the sixth chief. The first of whom there is any record was Angus, who lived at Killiechonate.

The first of this family was Ranald, known as Raonull Mor, second son of Archibald XV. of Keppoch. The former Macdonalds of Tirnadrish were of the Slfochd Gboirridh from Uist, the last of whom was Archibald, known as Gilleasbuig Mor. Ranald married Mary Macdonald of Glengarry…


Keppoch Macdonalds of Dalchosnie

Dalchosnie is actually in Rannoch in Pethshire. Electric Scotland has a history of the MacDonalds of Dalchosnie that explains that they are branch of the MacDonalds of Keppoch who built their keep at Dalchosnie where they lived for two hundred years. The first MacDonald of Dalchosnie was Alastair who came to Rannoch after killing a government soldier in Lochaber. There isn’t an exact date, but the Electric Scotland account mentions that Alastair had not been Rannoch long when the government forces attacked Dalchosnie in 1692.

Here’s the opening section on the Keppoch MacDonalds of Dalchosnie from The Clan Donald: Volume 3 by the Revs. Angus & Archibald Macdonald (1904):

This family is descended from John Dubh of Bohuntin, through Alexander Macdonald of Tulloch, who was the eldest son of Angus, the second son of John Dubh. The second son of Alexander of Tulloch from whom this family is descended may be reckoned from John Dubh …


2 thoughts on “Cadets of Clan MacDonald of Keppoch

  1. My name is Fiona Duigan-McKay and I am a descendant of the Macdonalds of Fersit and Keppoch. I would like to try and trace any living descendants of Andrew Lothian Macdonald. Any help would be appreciated.

    I live in Dunedin, New Zealand it would give me a great thrill if there were any descendants of Norman Andrew Lothian Macdonald.


    Fiona Duigan-McKay

  2. I am looking for any descendants of or information about a Roderick or an Alexander MacDonald who lived in the Keppoch and who emigrated to Nova Scotia probably in the 1800s. This may or may not be a branch known as the “Stanley” MacDonalds and there may be an ancestor referred to as “Black Rory” who reportedly cut off his own hand in order to be the first ashore to claim his land. If anyone has heard this tale or knows anything pertaining to a Black Rory, please email me at Thank you!

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