HISTORY - OF CLANS and the DUNAVERTY MASSACRE

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OF MACDONALDS, CAMPBELLS AND THE DUNAVERTY MASSACRE

After Somerled wrested them from the Vikings in the twelfth century, Kintyre and the Islands had principally been held by the MacDonalds, the Lords of the Isles. This independent minded Clan did not always behave as the Kings of the Scots would wish them to! The Campbells, on the other hand, were very shrewd politically and had, over the centuries, managed to get the Crown to transfer many of these land over to them. But the Campbells were not always Royalists...

In 1647, when both England and Scotland were engaged in bloody civil war, the Royalist army commanded by Sir Alexander MacDonald, was pursued down Kintyre by the Covenanters, under General David Leslie and Archibald Campbell, the Marquis of Argyll. Much of the Royalist army escaped across the sea. But there was not room for all and some three hundred men, women and children, principally MacDonalds and MacDougalls, were forced to hold up in the small castle at Dunaverty.

The Covenanters laid seige to the castle and managed to find, and cut off, the water supply. It was June - a hot summer - and before long the the defenders were forced to consider their options. General Leslie had apparently promised them quarter and so they surrendered (it is unlikely that they would have surrendered otherwise). The preacher to the Army, a Mr John Nevoy (reputedly encouraged by Archibald Campbell), had preached and demanded that the General break his word and have them all put to death.

And so it was done. In Bishop Guthry's memoirs, it is said that, as General Leslie, the Preacher and Argyll were walking ankle deep in blood, Leslie turned and said, "Now Mr John, have you not once gotten your fill of blood?"

Only four people survived.

The rock of Dunaverty is still there but, although little remains of the castle, what appears to be a roofless barn in a field nearer to the road, is in fact a mausoleum, erected by a later Macdonald, in which are interred the bones of the deceased.

As a postscript to this, the Covenanting Army had also brought the plague to Kintyre, which killed most of the population - there were only three houses left in Southend from which smoke continued to rise. It was at this point that the Marquis took the opportunity to import farming families from the Scottish Lowlands to replace the Gaelic Highlanders.

Which explains why so many of the established surnames in Kintyre - Ralston, Johnston and so on - are of Lowland origin.

 

Please note, these are merely snippets of history and are not to be taken as either authoritative or by any means comprehensive!

 

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