Entry in Black's

MACGREGOR, MACGREIGOR, MACGRIGOR (Tom's note: also McGheil in older Lismore records)

G. MacGriogair, 'son of Gregory.' Gregory, the name of several early popes, was a favourite name in the middle ages. The name Giric or Gyric, fourth in succession grom Kenneth I, was elaborated by Fordun (Chron., IV,16), into Gregorius, and is the 'Gregory the Great' of feudal fabulist. He is the legendary ancestor of the Macgregors. 'The Macgregors,' says R.H Bruce Lockhart, 'had the redeeming merit of picturesque-ness, and for that reason they occupy a larger place in Scottish literature than any other Highland clan.' ( A son of Scotland, 1938, p.131). On account of the many lawlwss deeds justly or unjustly laid to their charge, the name of Macgregor was proscribed in 1603 by Act of Parliament. Many of the clan in 1606 in obedience to an Act of the Privy Council renounced the name and adopted the surnames of Stewart, Grant, Dougall, Ramsay, and Cunninghame (Coll., p.130, 131, 135).

The Rev. James MacGregor, one of the founders , and first pastor of Londonderry, New Hampshire, was of Scottish origin. The proscription of the name was rescinded in 1661 but revived in 1693, and not finally abolished until the year 1784, after it had been for several years in practical desuetude. Though the name is quite widespread today it is doubtless not borne by all who are entitled to it. A list of those who wre fined for resetting outlawed members of the clan in 1613 is printed in RPC., xiv, p.629-663. In New York state in 1689 we have mention in a Dutch document of 'Macgrigerie uit Schotlandt,' and in 1697 of one Pacgrigari.

McCgregare 1500, McGregur 1600, McGreigor 1682, McGrigor 1711. Grigor McGriger 1696, mcGrigour 1586, Makriggour 1600.

Entry in History of Scotland

MacGregor, the name of a clan esteemed one of the purest of all the Celtic tribes, the distinctive badge of which was the pine.They were the principal sept of the Siol Alpin, and there can be no doubt of their their unmixed and direct descent from the Albanich or Alpinian srock, which formed the aboriginal inhabitants od Scotland. They were once numerous in Balquhidder and Menteith, and also in Glenorchy, which appears to have been their original seat. An air of romance has been thrown around this clan from the exploits and adventures of Rob Roy, and the cruel sufferings of the proscriptions to which they were, at different times, subjected to by the government.

Claiming a regal origin, their motto anciently was, 'My race is royal.' Griogar, said to have been the third son of Alpin, king of Scotland, who commenced his reign in 833, is mentioned as their remote ancestor, but is impossible to trace their descent from any such personage, or from his eldest brother, Kenneth Macalpin, from whom they also claim to be sprung.

Eminent Families

to be completed

Entry in Scottish Surnames by Donald Whyte


MACGREGOR The crest of the MacGregors bears the proud motto: S'riogbail Mo'Dhrem, 'My Race is Royal', and for centuries the ancestor was believed to be Alpin, the king of Dairiada slain in battle in 832, and whose son Kenneth united the Scots and the Picts ca. 843. However; the old genealogies of the clan cannot now be accepted. It is possible their name comes from the shadowy figure of Gregor of the Golden Bridles, who lived in the 14th century. Clan leaders often took their name from an ancestor noted for some outstanding trait or exploit, and Gregor was quite possibly of royal descent. Gregor's son lain Cam, who died in 1390, held the glens of Orchy, Strae and Lochy, on the opposite watershed of Strathfillan and Glendochart. He had three sons: Patrick, who held the ancient homeland of Glenorchy and lands of Strathfillan; Ian Dhu, ancestor of the Macgregors of Glenstrae; and Patrick, progenitor of the MacGregors of Brackley, Roro and Glengyle. Patrick's son Malcolm lost the Strathfillan lands to the Campbells of Bread albane, and the Glenstrac line came to be recognised as chiefs, but not universally. Some writers, such as Sheriff John MacGregor, 1877-1967, maintained that in olden times they never had a chief, but he also claimed there were no clansmen called Magruder outside America! Evidently he had never seen the Old Parochial Registers of Comne.

The MacGregors lost possession of all their lands except Glenstrae. The land-hungry Campbells of Argyll annoyed and oppressed them; reducing them virtually landless and to a state of lawlessness. Naturally they retaliated, but were represented in Edinburgh as having an untameable ferocity which nothing could remedy save 'cutting off the tribe of MacGregor; root and branch'. An act of 1488 injured the clan, but they were still numerous over a wide area, and it seems their fighting spirit and pride of race sustained them.

By the slaughter of Drummond of Drummondernoch in 1589, and their part in the conflict at Glenfruin in 1603, the former leading to an incident related in Scott's Legend of Montrose, the very name of MacGregor was proscribed by the Privy Council. They were forced to adopt other names such as Drummond, Murray, Graham, Grier, Stewart, Grant, and even Campbell. A later act pronounced death on any who had borne the name if they assembled in groups of more than four. Remarkably, they fought under Montrose, and this led to a relaxation in 1661, but the surname was not fully restored until 1774.

In 1714 the Balhaldie line - cadets of Roro - claimed chiefship, but were frustrated. This family were staunch Jacobites, and in 1740 Alexander MacGregor alias Drummond of Balhaldie was created a Knight and Baronet by James III and VIII. His successors held the estate for several generations. At length, the Brackley line, with others, entered into a deed recognising John Murray (later MacGregor) of Lanrick as chief. He was created a Baronet, 1795. The position of chief was not conceded by the MacGregors of Glengyle, from whom descended the famous Rob Roy MacGregor alias Campbell, but the chiefship being de jure and de facto vacant, John was recognised by the Lord Lyon as chief, and matriculated arms in 1775. Several books have been written about Rob Roy MacGregor; a mediocre one by Sir Walter Scott. The best is Rob Roy MacGregor: His Life and Times, by W.H. Murray (1982). The present chief is Brigadier Sir Gregor MacGregor; 6th Baronet of Lanrick and Balquhidder; whose heir is Maj. Malcolm Gregor Charles MacGregor. There is a flourishing Clan Society, and the informative magazine, The Quaich, is published at Edinburgh.


Tom Paterson - Last updated 25 Jan 2019