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MacClelland, McLelland, MacLelland, McClellan, MacClellan, McLellan,
MacLellan, Clelland, Cleland, Lelland, Leland.
Personal note: It has been suggested to me that it is wrong to include the names of MacLelland (and variants) and Cleland (and variants) in a single article. To that I say that these features are written as an aid to people embarking on the study of their family history from the starting point of their own surname and so, a modern Clelland or Cleland might never be aware of the existance of two families if these names were not treated together. For the same reason I have featured other names (MacMahon, O Mahon, Mahon and O Mahony, for example) together. In summary, this feature will remain here in its current form and I will not involve myself in further pointless argument over the rights and wrongs. For the benefit of those who wish to seek further information on these families I have added links to the two Clan organisations that have web pages, to the bottom of this page.
These surnames spring from two distinct origins, both with strong connections with Scotland and the northern parts of Ireland, one possibly being ultimately of Irish origin.
There was a sept of the Ui Fiachrach seated in Co. Sligo called Mac Giolla Fhaoláin - son of the follower of Saint Fillan. The name was first anglicised MacGillilan and MacGilliland which is a phonetic approximation to the Irish form. This in due course became MacClellan, MacClelland, MacClelan, MacCleland, MacLellan, MacLelland, and so on and as a result of the tendency to drop gaelic prefixes under English pressure in the seventh century, Clellan, Clelland, Lellan, Lelland, Cleland, Leland and even Leyland, though it is important to note that some of these forms have alternate origins.
Writing in the nineteenth century John O'Donovan stated that this sept was then extinct and that all persons of the name in Ireland were Ulster Scots. This may well be true since not only did the great majority of the births registered for the name in all the years for which we have detailed statistics in the nineteenth century take place in north-east Ulster but also Petty's "census", made some two centuries earlier, indicates that the name was then found chiefly in Co. Derry (baronies of Keenagh and Coleraine) and in Antrim (barony of Belfast). It appears there with and without the final "d" but always with initial "C" not "L". However, the name may well have been taken from Ireland to Scotland originally, as part of the colonisation of that country by the Ulster septs of Ireland, from where it was re-introduced during the seventeenth century Plantation.
Little is known of the origin of the name in Scotland except that it was in Gaelic originally Mac Gille Fhaolain, 'son of the devotee of Saint Fillan' exactly as in Ireland. It is recorded as numerous in Galloway (whence hailed so many of the Plantation settlers) from the end of the fourteenth century. The lack of history before this time lends weight to the possibility of its Irish origin, though at least one source claims the clan to be of ancient Pictish origin - without offering any evidence for this. The original anglicised form was Maclellan and the family gave their name to Balmaclellan in the Stewartry. Another possible origin of the name in Scotland relates to Patrick, son of Gilbert M'Lolane, who was one of the band of landed gentry who took Dumfries Castle from the supporters of King Robert I (the Bruce) in 1306 after the murder of John Comyn.
In Ireland the name is common only in Ulster, where it is fairly well distributed, main centres being in counties Antrim, Down, Armagh, Derry and Monaghan. It should be added that MacClelland is included by the enumerators as an Irish not a Scottish name in those two counties; but since such obviously non-Irish names as Boyd, Bell, Eccles, Fulton and Miller are classed by them as Irish I think this fact may be disregarded.
Sir Robert MacLellan of Bomby (died 1639), who had been knighted at an early age, was Provost of Kirkcudbright in 1607, whereupon he embarked on a career of riotous (and violent) living and profligacy. He was one of the nine Scottish chief undertakers of the Plantation of Ulster. He was initially granted lands in the baronies of Boylagh and Banagh in Donegal but sold his property there to John Murray in 1616. He married a Montgomery and settled in the old O'Neill lands in Down to which he brought many of his MacClelland relatives as tenants. He leased lands in Derry adjoining the portions of the London guilds of Haberdashers and of Clothworkers and administered them from his castle at Ballycastle in Co. Antrim. In 1633 he was made Lord Kirkcudbright, possibly for being useful to the Government while tending his estates in Ireland. After his death the title passed through the MacLellans of Glenshinnoch, Auchlane, and Balmangan to William MacLellan of Borness, 6th Lord, who was an Edinburgh glover and died in about 1765. The title became dormant in 1832.
Another notable man of the name in Ireland was Thomas Leland (1772-1785), the historian and donor of the manuscript of the Annals of Loch Ce (a primary source frequently mentioned by all leading Irish family historians) to the library of Trinity College, Dublin.
John Leland (died 1552), the earliest of the modern English antiquaries, does not appear to have had any connection with Ireland.
The second form to be considered is Cleland, distinguished by being almost invariably found with a single "l" in the middle and without the "Mac" or "Mc" prefix. This would seem to be on non-Gaelic origin and possibly founded by Alexander Kneland, whose wife was Margaret Wallace. Alexander's eldest son, John, was cousin, through his mother, to William Wallace and fought with him at Stirling Bridge, High Street Glasgow and Falkirk.
Several branches of the family are found in the area at Monkland, Faskine, Glenhoofe, Blairlin, Stonypath, Little Hareshaw, Stonehouse and Lesmahagow and so numerous was the clan that the whole area became know as Cleland.
How the name changed from Kneland to Cleland is unclear, but in 1444 there is a record of Cleulande de Clelandtoun. Lt. Col. William Cleland, Covenanter and Commanding officer of the Earl of Angus's Regiment known as the Cameronians (later to be known as the Scottish Rifles), was killed at the Battle of Dunkeld (21st August 1689).
Along with the MacClellands, many Cleland families were transplanted to Ulster in the seventeenth century, but do not appear to have risen to the same level of prominence.
It must be noted that in modern times, there is little doubt that Clelland and Cleland with all their variant spellings have been interchanged and that modern bearers of these names should not assume their affinity with one family or the other based on spelling alone. In addition, the presence or absence of a "Mac" or "Mc" prefix should not be accorded too much significance.
Around the end of the 18th century the Rev. John Cleland (Rector of Newtownards from 1789 to 1809) became tutor to the young Lord Castlereagh and subsequently acted as Agent for the Londonderry Estates. Cleland originally lived in Newtownards but by his marriage in 1805 to Esther, a daughter of Samuel Jackson of Storm Mount, he came into possession of some land at that site. He subsequently added to his holding as he amassed a considerable fortune by more or less dubious means.
It was at Storm Mount that, about 1830, Cleland created what was described as "a plain house." A mid or late Georgian house of a traditional type, it was in the form of a plain rectangle with a central projection to the south, presumably for the entrance. Associated plantings were very modest; there was a small fringed meadow at the front and an orchard on the hillside to the north west. A directory entry of 1837 referred (probably inaccurately) to the house as Storemont, and by 1864 the "Parliament Gazeteer" still did not rank it amongst the principal residences of the area. In those days the most substantial such residence was Rose Park, a name still in use in the residential area (and indeed in Rosepark House, a Government building occupied by the Exchequer and Audit Department and by part of the Department of Finance and Personnel). It was in the course of removing Rose Park, in the process of consolidating Cleland's holdings, that his son Samuel Jackson Cleland was killed by the collapse of a wall in 1842.
In 1858 the Cleland family commissioned the local architect Thomas Turner to convert the existing plain dwelling into a flamboyant baronial castle. To what extent the original house survives is not clear. Conventional wisdom, supported by some map evidence, is that the symmetrical five-bay block facing south is the "baronialised" shell of the Georgian dwelling. To this Turner added the entrance tower to the east. The whole image and particularly the outline of the building, was given a "baronial" character with turrets, battlements, bartizans with conical caps, iron cresting and weather vanes. The Cleland Monogram was used on the shields held by the snarling stone gryphons which still guard the main entrance to the Castle. The 1850's also saw extensive development of the demesne. This was extended to the main Newtownards Road, with the old lodge for Rose Park becoming the lodge for the remodelled baronial Stormont.
The Cleland family finally left in 1893, preferring to live abroad, and the demesne was let out. At some stage Stormont Castle was rented by Mr. Charles E. Allen J.P., a director of the shipbuilding firm of Workman and Clark Limited. On his moving away from Belfast the Castle became vacant, and in April 1921 both it and the surrounding land was offered at auction by a firm of Dublin auctioneers, but withdrawn when no bid higher than £15,000 was obtained. Later in 1921, however, it was acquired, with 235 acres of land, as a site for the Parliament Buildings of the new Northern Ireland state. On September 20th that Parliament resolved that '"Stormont Castle demesne shall be the place where the new Parliament House and Ministerial Buildings shall be erected, and as the place to be determined as the seat of the Government of Northern Ireland as and when suitable provision has been made therefore." Today, Stormont Castle is home to the Northern Ireland Assembly (Parliament).
There are several coats of arms on record for these names but all fall into one of two easily identifiable lines, which seem to correspond with the two origins described.
Clelland or McClelland (Ireland [registered Office of Ulster King of Arms]) Arms: Or two chevronels Gules a bordure engrailed of the last. Crest: An arm in armour embowed, the hand holding a sword piercing a negro's head couped all proper. Motto: think on.
There is a family legend regarding the crest and motto. Supposedly, Black Morrow, an Irish bandit was terrorizing the countryside around Kircudbright. King James offered the Barony of Kircudbright to whomever captured the bandit, dead or alive. William MacClellan presented the head of the bandit on his sword to the king. When the king appeared to have forgotten his promise, William bade him "Think On".
Cleland (Lanarkshire, Scotland) Arms: Azure a hare saliant Argent with a hunting horn very garnished Gules hanging about the neck. Crest: A falcon standing on a sinister hand gloved proper. Motto: 1. non sibi 2. for sport.
The following is extracted from "Record of the House of Kirkcudbright" - author unknown.
On the first of July, 1874, died at Clifton, aged 68, The Honourable Camden Elizabeth Lambert, widow of James Staunton Lambert, Esquire of Creg Clare, and afterwards of Waterdale House, County Galway, in Ireland, formerly M.P. for that county. This accomplished gentlewoman was the only daughter and heiress of Camden Gray M'Clellan (MacClellan), tenth and last Lord Kirkcudbright in the peerage of Scotland, by Sarah, daughter of the late Colonel Thomas Gorges; and she traced her descent (from that Sir Patrick M'Clellan of Bomby who was the father by a daughter of Sir Andrew Gray of Broxmouth, and of Janet, his wife, only child and heiress of Sir Roger de Mortimer, Lord of Foulis, and sister of Andrew, first Lord Gray, of Sir Patrick M'Clellan of Wigton, tutor of Bomby, the last heritable sheriff of ancient Galloway. The romantic circumstances of the latter's murder, in 1452, in Threave Castle (called the Lion's Den), by William, eighth Earl of Douglas, fifth Duke of Touraine, in France, and Lord of Galloway, are recorded by the old Scottish chroniclers and genealogists, and narrated, but somewhat inaccurately, by Sir Walter Scott and others.
Sir Patrick M'Clellan of Wigton, who, Pitscottie says, had always refused to acknowledge the Earl's supremacy in Galloway - where the Douglases were comparatively new-comers - and who now, with his kinsman, Lord Herries of Terregles, in spite of the Earl's promises and threats, stoutly refused to join him in the league which he had formed with the Earl of Crawford (called the Tiger Earl), and the Earl of Ross, Lord of the Isles, against King James II, retired for greater safety to Raeberry Castle, the chief stronghold of the MacClellans, which Douglas forthwith besieged.
Built on the brink of a precipitous cliff overhanging the Solway Firth, and surrounded landward by a strong wall with a deep moat spanned by a huge drawbridge outside it, Raeberry Castle was found to be impregnable. But the Earl bribed one of its warders - for a ladle full of gold - to leave unbolted a wicket of the sallyport of the Castle, by which on a certain night he himself, with a chosen band, entered. Then the records of the family were destroyed, and Raeberry Castle was dismantled; Sir Patrick M'Clellan and his brother, probably John M'Clellan of Lochfergus (Dominus de Lochfergus, 1448), were carried prisoners to Threave Castle. On the traitor presenting himself there and claiming the bribe, Earl Douglas ordered the gold to be melted and poured down his throat - thus, it was said, he got at once his reward and his punishment.
Threave Castle, standing on an islet in the river Dee, contained a garrison of more than one thousand men. The Black Douglases were then at the height of their power; and this Earl, the greatest of them all, was stronger than the King himself; for he and his allies, the Earls of Crawford and of Ross, could raise 40,000 of the best trained soldiers in Scotland. He it was who jeeringly told Herries the younger of Terregles, before ordering him to be hanged in defiance of the King's mandate solemnly delivered by a herald, that "the gallows' knob of Threave has not been without a tassel these fifty years, and that it may not want one now, I have ordered your henchman, who has hung the usual time, to be removed to make room for his master."
To Threave Castle Sir Patrick Gray of Foulis, commander of the King's Guard, brother to Andrew, first Lord Gray, and Sir Patrick M'Clellan's maternal uncle, came in haste from Edinburgh with a letter from King James asking as a personal favour, rather than demanding, the release of Sir Patrick M'Clellan. Earl Douglas, who had just risen from dinner, knowing their kinship, guessed the object of the visit, and with feigned courtesy declined to enter upon business until Sir Patrick Gray had dined, saying, "It's ill talking between a full man and a fasting one". He then gave secret orders for Sir Patrick M'Clellan to be beheaded. As soon as he had dined, Sir Patrick Gray presented the King's letter to Douglas, who, pretending to receive and read it with the utmost respect, and telling him "the King's demand shall instantly be granted, the rather for your sake," took him by the hand, and purposely leading him through the court-yard where the headless body of his nephew lay, turned to him and said, "Alas! you have come a little too late; there lies your sister's son, though without the head, but you can take his body." Gray, suppressing his indignation, replied, "My lord, since you have taken his head, you may do your will with his body." Then, calling for his horse, he immediately mounted and rode outside the drawbridge of the Castle, and having there upbraided Douglas as a bloodthirsty tyrant and a disgrace to knighthood, added, "If I live you shall pay dearly for this day's work." He then rode off. "To horse, to horse, and chase him!" cried Douglas, and had it not been for the strength and swiftness of his steed, which, foreseeing his chance of a ride for life, he had carefully chosen before starting on his perilous journey, Sir Patrick Gray would doubtless have shared the fate of his unfortunate nephew and that of Lord Colville, Sir John Herries the younger, Sir John Sandilands of Calder, Sir Allan Stewart, Sir James Stewart, and others, all friends of the King, whom likewise Douglas had ruthlessly slain; for so eager was the Earl to capture him that the pursuit, kept up for more than sixty miles, ceased only within sight of Edinburgh. Sir Patrick Gray's threat of revenge was soon afterwards - namely, on Fasting's Eve (Shrove Tuesday), 13th February, 1452 executed by him in Stirling Castle, where the Earl Douglas visited the King by invitation, on a safe conduct, under the Great Seal of Scotland. For, on the second day of his visit, after dining and supping together, the King took the Earl into a small room in the Tower, away from the Banqueting Hall, and urged him to break his bond with the Earls of Crawford and of Ross, as being contrary to his allegiance; and upon the Earl's haughty refusal, a fierce quarrel ensued, and the young King - who was then only just of age - in a burst of rage, drawing his dagger, cried out, "By Heaven, my lord, if you will not break the bond, this shall!" and he thereupon stabbed the Earl, first in the throat, and then in the belly. Sir Patrick Gray, who was on guard outside, stepped in, and seeing the King and the Earl struggling together, gave Douglas a finishing stroke on the head with his battleaxe. Others then coming in stabbed him with daggers and knives. Pierced with twenty-six wounds by the King and his courtiers, the dead body of the great Earl, who died without a groan, was hurled through the rose window - now filled in with coloured glass - and buried where it fell, at the foot of the Great Tower, the skeleton being discovered there in October, 1797. Thus was settled the question whether Douglas or Stewart was henceforth to rule in Scotland; for James, the Earl's brother and sole successor, proved himself to be a Douglas only in name, and through wavering he lost all. He and his three brothers, namely, Archibald, Earl of Moray, and Hugh, Earl of Ormond - the victor at Sark - and John, Lord Balveny, were utterly crushed at the battle of Arkinholme, fought on the first of May, 1455, by the royal army commanded by George Douglas, Earl of Angus; and so the Black Douglases then gave place to the Red.
Sir Patrick M'Clellan, of Wigton, was buried in Dundrennan Abbey under a monument of freestone, having a life-size statue, and bearing the following inscription:
"Hic jacet vir honorabilis dominus Patricius MacClellanus de Wigton, et vicecomes Gallovidice, qui obiit anno domini millesimo quadragentesimo quinquagesimo secondo - Cujus anima requiescat in pace M'Clellan."
This monument was extant in 1723, for it was then seen and described, and its inscription copied, by an English traveller who, sailing from the Isle of Man and landing at Kirkcudbright and going through Galloway, visited Dundrennan Abbey.
The M'Clellans (MacClellans), as being one of the indigenous or Pictish noble families of Scotland, whose origin has not yet been shown, claimed during the Roman Catholic times the right to carry the Host in all religious processions. They were still in great power and authority in the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, and, for ages, heritable sheriffs of ancient Galloway, which consisted of the County of Wigton, the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, and the districts of Nithsdale, Annandale, and Carrick. That the Earls Palatine of Strathern, in Perthshire, who figured so largely among the seven Earls of Celtic Scotland, were MacClellans is proved by their coat-of-arms - "Two chevronels on a plain shield." They were the successors of the ancient Mormaers of Strathern. The Pictish title of Mormaer, a dignity second only to that of king, appears to have been exchanged for the Saxon title of earl about the beginning of the tenth century. The great chieftain, William MacDonochy, the King's nephew - being the legitimate son of King Duncan II, who was the eldest son of Malcolm Canmore by his first wile and Norwegian Queen Ingibiorg (widow of Thorfin, Jarl of Orkney), and elder half-brother to Kings Edgar, Alexander I., and David I., who were the three youngest sons of Malcolm Canmore by his second wife and Saxon Queen Margaret - and Malise II., Earl Palatine of Strathern and Ulgric and Dovenald, led the van of the Scottish army composed of the MacClellans, the MacCullochs, the MacDowalls, the MacKies or MacGhies, and other Gallowegians at the battle of the Standard fought at Northallerton, in Yorkshire on 22nd August, 1138. William MacDonochy's victory on the 6th June, 1138, at Clitheroe, in Lancashire, had enabled him to force upon the unwilling King, David I, the claim of the unarmoured Gallowegians to form the van of the many-peopled and disunited Scottish army. The King putting more trust in his men-at-arms, the Earl, in anger, asked, "Why trust so much in plates of steel or rings of iron? I, who wear no armour, will go as far tomorrow with a bare breast as anyone who wears a breastplate." "You brag of what you dare not do," said Sir Allan de Percy, a Norman knight. The King could hardly still the quarrel, and in the battle on the morrow, the Gallowegians getting but slight support - to wit, a dashing charge of cavalry led by Prince Henry of Scotland, the King's eldest son - the Scottish army was worsted. By this eventful battle the heretofore ever-varying border between England and Scotland became fixed at the Tweed instead of the Humber.
The branches of the MacClellans, sprung from the stem of Bomby, were so numerous that fourteen knights of the surname - whose titles and estates are given by Crawford and others - were living at the same time, viz.: - Bardrochwood, Barholm, Barscobe, Borgue, Colvend (otherwise Culwen), Gelstoun, Glenshinnoch (otherwise Orchardtoun), Kilcruichie, Kirkconnel, Kirkcormack, Kirkgunzeon, Ravenston (otherwise Remistoun), Sorbie, and Troquhain.
The MacClellans, barons of Gelstoun, were, as stated by the ancient genealogists, and as proved by their shield of arms, a junior, though very old, branch of the MacClellans, Barons of Bomby; being traceable back from Sir Thomas MacClellan of Gelstoun, 1620, to Sir John M'Clellan of Gelstoun, 1264. Their crest, a Saracen's head, was probably the original crest of the MacClellans of Bomby.
Sir John M'Clellan of Bomby (de Bondeby) was one of fifty companions-in-arms who sailed with Sir William Wallace from Kirkcudbright to France after the fatal battle of Falkirk, 1298, to seek the aid of Philip IV of France against Edward I of England.
The MacClellans and the other Gallowegians loyally supported the Balliols, Lords of Galloway, as having the best right to the Crown of Scotland. In 1314 lands in Knapdale and Glenarwyle, in Argyllshire, were granted to Dougal M'Clellan of Gelstoun for his military services; and most probably instead of the barony of Gelstoun, which had been forfeited to King Robert the Bruce; but when the Balliols disappeared and the Bruce became by right, as well as by merit, entitled to the allegiance of all true Scotsmen, the Gallowegians supported him, and, doubtless, the MacClellans so regained the forfeited baronies of Bomby and of Gelstoun.
During the reign of King Robert the Bruce, Gilbert M'Clellan was Bishop of Sodor and Man. He was buried at Rothesay, in the island of Bute, and in 1329 a grant was made to his brother, Cuthbert M'Clellan, in connection with his funeral.
According to the Book of Pluscardin "Alexander MacClellan, a knight in the Lennox," slew Thomas Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence (younger brother of Henry V of England) at the battle of Beauge, in Anjou, France, fought on Paschal Eve, 1421. The monks of Pluscardin record that Sir Alexander MacClellan, having taken the duke's coronet from off his helmet, sold it to Sir John Stewart of Darnley for one thousand angels. He was ancestor of Henry, Lord Darnley, the husband of Mary Queen of Scots, and father of James the Sixth of Scotland and First of England. This Sir Alexander MacClellan may have been a descendant of Dougal MacClellan of Gelstoun, in Galloway, to whom lands in Knapdale and Glenarwyle, in Argyllshire, were granted in 1314. In 1435 John MacClellan was Custumar of Kirkcudbright.
The heritable shrievalty of ancient Galloway, and also the barony of Bomby, with most of the estate of the collateral branches, were in 1452 forfeited by the family for making without legal warrant or authority severe reprisals upon the Douglases in revenge for the aforementioned murder of Sir Patrick M'Clellan of Wigton, Tutor of Bomby, last heritable sheriff of ancient Galloway. Nevertheless, when shortly afterwards King James II, marched with an army into Galloway, and undertook in person the siege of Threave Castle, the MacClellans joined him in strong force. As a result, many of the forfeited estates were soon recovered by the MacClellans - amongst others, Bardrochwood, Barscobe, Bomby, Borgue, Borness, Gelstoun, Glenshinnoch (otherwise Orchardtoun), Lochfergus, Ravenstoun (otherwise Remistoun), and Troquhain.
It has been boldly and repeatedly alleged that the parish and village of Balmaclellan were first so called only in 1466, and that they took their name from John MacClellan of BalmacClellan (Balmac Klellan), who, in February 1466, obtained from King James III a charter of the lands and village, and that his name was given to them on his bestowing a site for a church. It is enough to point out that on the 28th May, 1408, Sir Alexander Gordon of Lochinvar was infeft in the twenty mark land of BalmacClellan, eo nomine, of old extent, upon a grant thereof to him by Archibald, Earl of Douglas, then Lord of Galloway.
Alexander Gordon, second son of Sir William Gordon of Lochinvar, acquired Auchenreocb, in Urr, by purchase from Dougal M'Clellan, son of the said John MacClellan of BalmacClellan, and he was the first of the Gordons of Auchenreoch.
Troquhain, part of BalmacClellan, passed by marriage of Janet, daughter of the said John MacClellan, to George Gordon, third son of Sir Wtlham Gordon of Lochinvar, and from them sprang the Gordons of Troquhain.
Alexander Gordon and George Gordon were two of the brothers of Margaret Gordon, the first wife of Sir William M'Clellan of Bomby.
The heritable shrievalty of ancient Galloway is said to have been so great an once that upon its forfeiture by the MacClellans, the King, mindful of the past over towering of the Black Douglases, would not grant it again to any single family; but it was then divided into two distinct jurisdictions, namely, the sheriffship of Wigtownshire and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, both of which offices were given to other families; and the districts of Nithsdale and Annandale were joined to Dumfriesshire, and that of Carrick to Ayrshire. In 1452 the appointment of Sir Andrew Agnew of Lochnaw as first heritable sheriff of Wigtonshire was confirmed by charter, and Herbert, first Lord Maxwell, was made steward of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.
The shield of arms of the MacClellans -" Or, two chevronels sable "- differs but slightly from that of the ancient Lords of Galloway, displaying two chevronels instead of one chevron. Both crests of the MacClellans of Bomby, with their respective mottoes, were assumed by Sir William M'Clellan of Bomby, grandson of the said Sir Patrick M'Clellan of Bomby, and nephew of the murdered Sir Patrick M'Clellan of Wigton, Tutor of Bomby. The first commemorates his recovery of the barony of Bomby. This, King James had by proclamation offered as a reward to any person who should bring to him, dead or alive, a fierce rover called "Black Morrow" come from Ireland, who, with his band of marauders, had become a terror to the people of Kirkcudbright and its neighbourhood. It is said that William M'Clellan gathered his followers, both kin and kith, and, after defeating the band and killing their leader, carried the head of Black Morrow to the King on the point of his sword, and bade him "think on," the King having at first forgotten his proclamation. He was then knighted. The second bears allusion to the battering down of Threave Castle during its siege by King James, by means of a monster cannon called "Mollance Meg" (corrupted to "Mons Meg ") from Mollance in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, constructed by a blacksmith named M'Kim and his sons, who were retainers of the barons of Bomby; "Mollance" after M'Kim himself, to whom the King gave the lands of Mollance, and "Meg" after his wife, whose voice resembled that of the cannon.
On the fall of the Black Douglases, Kirkcudbright, which under them had been a borough of Regality, was made a Royal Burgh, and its first provost was Sir William M'Clellan of Bomby.
The subsequent chequered history of this most ancient and once powerful family is not without interest.
Sir William M'Clellan of Bomby married, first, Marjory, eldest daughter of Sir John Dunbar of Mochrum, whose third daughter, Catherine, married Donald M'Clellan of Gelstoun; and secondly, Marion, daughter of Sir William Carlyle of Torthorwald, and sister of John, first Lord Carlyle of Torthorwald, descendants of Sir William Carlyle of Torthorwald and Cunnington, by Margaret Bruce, daughter of Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, and sister of King Robert the Bruce. By Marion Carlyle he had apparently a second son, Donald M'Clellan of Borness (1476-1492) as he had a son afterwards, Sir Thomas M'Clellan of Bomby. The father and elder son and heir were successively in high favour with James II and James III, to whom they rendered many good services. Sir Thomas M'Clellan, the son, married, first, Margaret, only daughter of Sir William Gordon of Lochinvar, ancestor of the Viscounts of Kenmure; and secondly, Agnes, daughter of Sir James Dunbar of Mochrum, a descendant of Cospatrick, a Northumbrian prince who cast in his lot with Malcolm Canmore, and was by him, in romp, created Earl of March; tracing through John Dunbar, Earl of Moray, second son of Patrick Dunbar, ninth Earl of March and Dunbar, and of Agnes his wife, the famous "Black Agnes " - 1339 - only daughter and heiress of Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, Lord of Man and of Annandale, nephew of King Robert the Bruce, and Regent of Scotland. He died in 1504, leaving by Agnes Dunbar three sons - first, Sir William M'Clellan of Bomby; second, Gilbert M'Clellan in Balmangan, from whom by Margaret Berries, daughter of Andrew, Lord Herries of Terregles, and grand-daughter of Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl at Angus, nicknamed "Bell the Cat," the greatest of the Red Douglases, descended William, 7th Lord Kirkcudbright (grandson of Robert M'Clellan of Balmangan and Borness, and son of William M'Clellan of Borness, by Agnes, daughter of William M'Culloch of Ardwall), John, 8th Lord, Sholto Henry, 9th Lord, and Camden Gray, 10th Lord; and third, John M'Clellan of Auchlane, Tutor of Gelstoun.
Sir William M'Clellan of Bomby, who was considered to be one of the most accomplished gentlemen of Scotland, and who enjoyed the personal friendship of King James IV, fell, with Sir John Dunbar of Mochrum (the husband of his sister Catherine), and with Patrick M'Clellan of Gelstoun, together with a large number of their respective kinsmen and dependents, at Flodden, on the 9th September, 1513. By his wife, Elizabeth Muir of Cassencary, he had at least three children. His daughter, Catherine M'Clellan, married John Kennedy of Colzean, whose only child and heiress, Elizabeth Kennedy, it appears, took back Colzean to the main line of the Kennedys on her marriage with Gilbert, 3rd Earl of Cassillis, Lord Treasurer of Scotland, ancestor of the Marquis of Ailsa.
William M'Clellan of Nuntoun, better known as the Tutor of Bomby, a younger son of the said Sir William M'Clellan of Bomby, married Agnes, daughter of Sir James Jahnstone of that ilk, ancestor of the Marquis of Annandale. They were the progenitors of the MacClellans of Nuntoun. When in 1547 Kirkcudbright was besieged by an English force under Sir Thomas Carleton of Carleton, in Cumberland, who threatened to burn the town, the Tutor of Bomby came to its relief, and although Sir Thomas Carleton claims to have repulsed an attack made by him, yet he admits that the Tutor of Bomby forced him to raise the siege.
Sir William MacClellan's elder son, Sir Thomas M'Clellan of Bomby, was, on the 11th of July, 1526, slain by the Baron of Drumlanrig, ancestor of the Marquis of Queensberry, and by the Baron of Lochinvar, ancestor of the Viscounts of Kenmure, on the High Street of Edinburgh, at the door of St. Giles' Church, in a family quarrel. In the vain hope of terminating this, Sir Thomas M'Clellan, his son, married, in 1544, Helen, daughter of Sir James Gordon of Lochinvar, and granted to him, and to Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig, Sir John Campbell, and thirty-four others, their assisters, letters of slains. Both he and his father-in-law, it seems, fell at Pinkie on the 10th September, 1547. This Thomas M'Clellan of Bomby and Thomas M'Clellan of Auchlane, Tutor of Bomby, have been mistaken for each other, The slaughter of his father, Sir Thomas M'Clellan of Bomby, is particularly mentioned by Sir Christopher Dacre, the English ambassador in Edinburgh, in a letter written in 1526 to his brother, Lord Dacre, warden of the West Marches, as showing the distracted state of Scotland; and he adds that the slayers go about free, none calling them to account - they happened to be on the winning side for the time being; but it caused a fierce feud between the MacClellans and the Gordons, which lasted more than a century. During its continuance people in Galloway presented a petition to the Court of Session in Edinburgh, praying for removal of their legal action or cause from Galloway to Edinburgh, because, owing to the deadly feud then raging between the two leading families of Eastern Galloway, no justice could be had between man and man; and at length, in 1608, King James VI interfered, and Sir Robert M'Clellan of Bomby was required to give a bond in 10000 pounds and William M'Clellan of Glenshinnoch, his brother, a bond of like amount, not to harm the Gordons; and Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinvar and James Gordon, his brother, also had to give similar bonds not to harm the MacClellans; but these bonds had to be renewed from time to time, as the feud still raged.
Sir Thomas M'Clellan of Bomby - son of Sir Thomas M'Clellan of Bomby, who Fell at Pinkie, and grandson of Sir Thomas M'Clellan of Bomby, who was slain in Edinburgh, and great grandson of Sir William M'Clellan of Bomby, who fell at Flodden - and his father have usually been treated as being one and the same person. He, the son, in 1570, sold the Kirk of St. Andrew, then disused, and also the Kirk of the Grey Friars of Kirkcudbright to the burgh of Kirkcudbright; undertaking for himself to support the choir or chancel, being one third, and for the parishioners to uphold the other two-thirds, of the Friars Kirk, and this became the parish Kirk until 1838. Beneath that choir is the burying place of the MacClellans of Bomby. He also built the modern castle of Kirkcudbright, which was finished in 1582. He died in July, 1597. Above the family vault there is to him and his second wife, Grissel Maxwell a monument with the reclining figure of a knight in full armour, bearing the following inscription:
"Hic Dominus situs est T. M'Clellanus et uxor D Grissel Maxwell; marmor utrumque tegit. His genitus R. D Kirkcudbrius ecce sepulchrum Posuit hoc, chari patris honore sui."
"Ille obiit Anno Dom. Jul, 1597. Respice finem, memento mori; mors mihi vita est."
By Grissel Maxwell he had three sons - first, Sir Robert M'Clellan of Bomby (knighted by James I, of England; created by Charles I, in 1629 a baronet, and in 1633 a peer, with the title of Lord Kirkcudbright), who married, first, Anne, daughter of Sir Matthew Campbell of Loudoun, ancestor of the Earls of Loudoun; and, secondly, Mary, daughter of Hugh Montgomery, Viscount of Ards, in Ireland, ancestor of the Earls of Mount Alexander - an earldom now extinct; his only child, Marion, daughter by his first wife, married Sir Robert Maxwell of Orchardtoun. He with his wife and family lived in his leasehold castle of Ballycastle, in Ulster, Ireland, where he died in 1639.
Second, William M'Clellan of Glenshinnoch (otherwise Orchardtoun), Provost of Kirkcudbright, who married Rosina, daughter of Sir Andrew Agnew of Lochnaw, and was father to Thomas, second Lord Kirkcudbright; and, third, John M'Clellan of Borgue, who married, first, his cousin Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir William M'Clellan of Auchlane, Tutor of Bomby (either by his first wife, Elizabeth M'Ghie, daughter of Alexander M'Ghie of Balmaghie, or by his second wife, Judy Catherine Kennedy, daughter of Gilbert, third Earl of Cassillis, Lord Treasurer of Scotland, ancestor of the Marquis of Ailsa), and, secondly, Margaret Couper, daughter of William Couper, Bishop of Galloway; and from him descended, by Margaret Couper, his second wife, John of Borgue, third Lord; William, fourth Lord; John of Auchlane, fifth Lord; and James of Auchlane, sixth Lord.
Thomas M'Clellan of Glenshinnoch, otherwise Orchardtoun, second Lord Kirkcudbright, a zealous Presbyterian, embraced the cause of the Covenanters. He was with the well trained Scottish army under Sir Alexander Leslie, afterwards Earl of Leven, encamped an Dunse Law, near Edinburgh, in defence of presbytery, when King Charles I, with an English army of about equal force, invaded Scotland to establish prelacy; but, after a cavalry fight, on the 3rd June, 1639, retreated. Appointed, in 1640, colonel of the South Regiment, a regiment of cavalry raised chiefly in Galloway, he joined the Scottish army, which, under Alexander Leslie, Earl of Leven, marched into England - James Graham, Earl (afterwards Marquis) of Montrose, being the first man to ford the Tweed and advancing to the Tyne fought an won the battle of Newburn, near Newcastle, on 28th August, 1640, an English army of 6000 men under Lord Conway being put to flight. By personal gallantry, and care for those under his command, he became, it is said, a most popular leader. In 1644 he attended the Scottish Parliament, and was, on the forfeiture of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. The following year, on the 13th of September, 1645, under Sir David Leslie, at the battle of Philiphaugh, near Selkirk, as commander of a regiment which he had raised in Galloway at his own expense from amongst his own tenants and retainers, he greatly distinguished himself, and the Scottish Parliament voted a sum of 15000 marks, but which was never paid, for the distribution amongst men of his regiment, as a reward for their extreme gallantry. Subsequently he served in Ireland, where he died in 1647. His issue, by his wife, Lady Janet Douglas (daughter of William, the first Earl of Queensberry by Isabella, daughter of Mark, the first Earl, and ancestor of the Marquis of Lothian, ancestor of the Marquis of Queensberry), having died young, he was succeeded by his cousin John, third Lord, son of John M'Clellan or Borgue. This nobleman brought ruin upon the MacClellans of Bomby, Borgue, Nuntoun, Miltoun, Gregorie, Overlaw, Almorness, Auchlane, Balmangan, and other branches, not, as has been charged against him, by fickleness, but, contrariwise, by extreme constancy; for, from first to last, under every change of rulers, with the corresponding change in form of religion, he proved himself to be a consistent, although, perhaps, too enthusiastic Presbyterian. He raised from amongst his tenants and vassals, and maintained during the war, a regiment of foot. Nominated in 1648 with Alexander Leslie, Earl of Leven, and General Holburn, as a deputation from the Convention of Estates, the most powerful party at that time in Scotland, Lord Kirkcudbright opened negotiations with Oliver Cromwell, who was then with his army at Berwick. The execution of Charles I having caused disagreement between the English and Scottish Parliaments, the latter, in February, 1649, proclaimed Charles II King, and Lord Kirkcudbright's regiment, which had been sent to Ireland, was in December following surprised and nearly cut to pieces by the Parliamentary troops at Lessnegarvy, in Ulster. His vast estates were heavily encumbered by him to raise and maintain large forces during the Civil Wars; but, for this, the only return he got was the barren honour of forming part of the retinue of Charles II at the Restoration of 1660. These estates were finally ruined in 1663, when he opposed the introduction of an Episcopalian minister into the Church of Kirkcudbright. He died in 1665, leaving by his wife Anne, daughter of Sir Robert Maxwell of Orchardtoun (by Marion M'Clellan, daughter of Robert, First Lord Kirkcudbright) an only surviving son, William, fourth Lord, who died in 1669, under age and unmarried. During his minority the whole estate was seized by his father's creditors.
Although the MacClellans were always noted for their loyalty, yet both the second and third Lords Kirkcudbright were for God first, then the King. This is the key to the character of the much abused, because misunderstood, John of Borgue, third Lord Kirkcudbright. He was, it has been said, a violent opponent of Oliver Cromwell and of the Independents.
John, fifth Lord, son of William M'Clellan of Auchlane, died a minor and without issue, and was succeeded by his brother James, sixth Lord, who died in 1730, leaving by his wife, Margaret Drummond, no son but three daughters - the eldest of whom, Margaret M'Clellan, married Samuel Brown of Mollance; the second, Mary M'Clellan, appears to have died unmarried; and the youngest, Janet, married William Maxwell of Miltoun.
In 1782 the Castle of Kirkcudbright was sold to the Earl of Selkirk by Sir Robert Maxwell of Orchardtoun - whose wife was Margaret M'Clellan, daughter of Robert M'Clellan of Barscobe, and who succeeded his cousin, Sir Thomas Maxwell of Orchardtoun, the husband of Henrietta Brown, grand-daughter of James, sixth Lord Kirkcudbright.
Upon the death of James, sixth Lord, the title devolved upon William, seventh Lord, grandson of Robert M'Clellan of Balmangan and Borness, and son of William M'Clellan of Bomess by Agnes, daughter of William M'Culloch of Ardwall. His claim was in 1734 unsuccessfully disputed by Ephraim M'Clellan of Barmagachan, and also by James M'Clellan, eldest son of Sir Samuel M'Clellan, M.P., Lord Provost of Edinburgh (1706-1708), a strenuous, but thereby unpopular, supporter of the Union between England and Scotland - and first representative of that city in the Parliament of Great Britain. The Master of Kirkcudbright, his eldest son, having died young and unmarried in Edinburgh in March, 1741, he was succeeded by his youngest son, John, eighth Lord, a colonel in the 3rd Regiment Scots Guards, whose two sons, Sholto Henry M'Clellan and Camden Gray M'Clellan, became respectively ninth and tenth Lords.
The Lords of Kirkcudbright, being no timeservers, but staunch Presbyterians and thorough loyalists, risked all and lost all for, first, conscience, and, then, the Crown; hence the poverty of John, fifth Lord; James, sixth Lord; and William, seventh Lord. The first died a bachelor; the issue male of the other two became long since extinct.
Charles II, was in heart a papist, and no return for their services and sacrifices was ever made to the Lords of Kirkcudbright. Still, poverty, howsoever caused, whether nobly or ignobly, always did, and always will, call forth the sneers of those who worship only wealth, and also of those who delight in the misfortunes of others.
Dunbar MacClellan was captain of the Superb, the flagship of Admiral Sir Edward Hughes, on board of which ship Captain MacClellan fell in the second engagement with the Bailli de Suffrein, in the East Indies, and on him Sir Edward in his dispatches writes: - "The death of Captain MacClellan of the Superb, who was shot through the heart with a grape shot early in the engagement, is universally regretted by all who knew him. I had experienced in him an excellent officer in every department of the service." He was not, as alleged by Sir Robert Douglas of Glenbervie and others, the third son of William M'Clellan, seventh Lord Kirkcudbright, but he was a younger son of Robert MacClellan of Barscobe, by Elizabeth Heron, daughter of Patrick Heron of Heron and Kirroughtrie, M.P. for the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.
The MacClellans of Barscobe, Balmaclellan, Balmangan, Barmagachan, Carslae, and Collin, with many others, gradually disappeared from Galloway during the wars of 1666, 1715, and 1745, in which they took active part.
Robert M'Clellan of Barmagachan fought at Pentland, 28th November, 1666. His life and property were forfeited in June, 1680, when he fled with three children to Woodbridge, New Jersey, USA. In 1691 he regained his lands and returned to Scotland. From him, or his father, Robert M'Clellan of Barmagachan, descended General George Brinton M'Clellan USA, commander-in-chief of the Federal Army, 1861.
The ruins of the Castle of Kirkcudbright, and of about one-third of the house built by William M'Clellan of Barscobe in 1640-1641, in place of the ancient Tower of Barscobe, are still to be seen; but of the older castles of Bomby (1227 and earlier), Raeberry (dismantled 1452), Gelstoun, Lochfergus, Pluntoun, Cumstoun (otherwise Compstoun), and others, and of the Tower at Borgue, Balmangan, Barscobe, and others, which also once belonged to this family, few vestiges remain.
By the death, on 19th April, 1832, without male issue, of Camden Gray M'Clellan, tenth Lord Kirkcudbright, the title became dormant.