The Clan History
The Appin Stewarts, the West Highland branch of the royal surname Stewart, descend from Sir James Stewart of Perston, 4th son of Sir John Stewart of Bonkyl, second son of Alexander, the 4th High Steward of Scotland. Sir James was the grandfather of John Stewart of Innermeath, who, through marriage to Isabell NicDougall (MacDougall) of Lorn, became the first Stewart Lord of Lorn. The Lordship of Lorn passed down for 2 more generations to Sir John Stewart, the third Stewart Lord of Lorn.
Tradition tell us that in 1445, while returning to his seat at Dunstaffnage castle from the great cattle tryst at Crieff, Sir John met and fell in love with the daughter of MacLaren of Ardvech. Although married, he began an affaire with his new love which one year later produced a son. He was christened Dugald and was to be the first Chief of the Stewarts of Appin.
After the death of his first wife, Sir John waited, for reasons we are unaware of today, for 5 years until setting up the marriage between himself and Dugald's mother, but it may have had something to do with the politics of the day. In 1463, Sir John set a wedding date and sent for Dugald and his mother to come to Dunstaffnage. Unknown to Sir John, there was a plot to kill the Lord of Lorn. It is not fully known, but it is thought to have been set up by the Lord of the Isles who was in a power struggle with the King of Scots, and who saw it as being in his best interest to neutralize this powerful and loyal representative of the King in the west highlands. The other plotters, which some feel included Colin Campbell, Lord Argyll, Sir John's son-in-law, were primarily represented by Alan MacCoul, the
illegitimate grandson of an earlier MacDougall Chief. As the lightly armed wedding party made it's way from Dunstaffnage to the small chapel located approximately 180 yards from the castle walls, they were attacked by a superior force lead by Alan MacCoul. Although better armed, MacCoul's force was defeated, but not before mortally wounding Lord of Lorn. Sir John was rushed into the chapel and MacCoul and his henchmen ran into and occupied the deserted Dunstaffnage. With his last breath Sir John married Dugald's mother, legitimizing him and making him the de jure Lord of Lorn. After receiving the last rites, Sir John expired and a new chapter in west highland history was opened.
Dugald gathered all the adherents of the Lord of Lorn and with the assistance of the MacLarens laid siege to Dunstaffnage, but to no avail. Unbeknownst to Dugald, Colin Campbell, Lord Argyll who seemed to have been involved in the plot, raised a group of MacFarlanes to aid MacCoul in his struggle against the de jure Lord of Lorn. MacCoul's men with the MacFarlanes met the men of Lorn and MacLaren in what was to be known as the battle of Leac a dotha. It was a fierce battle with both sides leaving the field with very heavy losses.
For the next few years Dugald, who had lost the tile of Lord of Lorn through the treachery of his uncle Walter Stewart and Lord Argyll, but had retained Appin and Lismore, consolidated his power and fortified the hunting lodge of castle Stalker on the Cormant's Rock in Loch Laich. He also ensured that the Campbells were in no doubt about his displeasure over the loss of the Lordship of Lorn by having the Campbell territory surrounding Appin regularly raided by our clan. Finally in 1468 in a bid to finally destroy the power of Appin, Colin Campbell and Walter Stewart, now recognized as the Lord of Lorn (but with no authority in Lorn) organized a massive raid against Dugald and our clan. Alan MacCoul was again involved and they met at what was to be know as the battle of Stalc. Though loosing many men, Dugald virtually destroyed the military strength of the MacFarlands (a destruction
they were never to recover from) and personally killed Alan MacCoul, his father's murderer. The battle solidified Dugald's claim to Appin and the surrounding area which was formally granted to him by King James III on the 14th of April 1470. Our clan was born.
The major branches or "tacks" of Appin stem from the sons of Alan Stewart, 3rd of Appin. Originally they comprised John, 1st of Strathgarry, Dugald, 1st of Achnacone, James, 1st of Fasnacloich and Alexander, 1st of Invernahyle. Ardsheal, the branch our Chief hails from, was given to John, 1st of Ardsheal by his father, John Stewart, 5th of Appin.
The Adherents or "septs" of Appin stem from families that lived in Lorn prior to the Stewarts gaining the Lordship. These were/are the MacColls, who descended from Black Solomon, son of Coll, son of the Lord of the Isles, The MacLeays or Livingstones (anglicized from MacLeay), who were reported to be on Lismore in 1130, but who's heritage is so old that know one really knows their beginnings, The MacGillemichaels, or their anglicized form "Carmichael", are also so old that we can only guess. It is know that they were present in Appin prior to the 13th century. The Combichs decended from a family nickname from north Appin and the MacRobbs were/are actually Stewarts, descending from Robert, son of Dugald, 1st of Appin. The MacInnes, originally from the area of Morvern, settled in the area in the early 15th century.
The clan fought in many major engagements including the Civil Wars of the 17th century and all the Jacobite Risings, ending, of course, with the battle of Culloden, where 92 of our clan were killed and 65 wounded out of a fighting force of approximately 300.
Today we are dispersed all round the globe, but nobely represented by our Chief, Andrew Francis Stewart of Lorn, Appin and Ardsheal. The clan comes together though a number of activities, including The Appin Stewarts, The Stewart Society, The Friends of Appin (Australia) and the Appin Historical Society. With the passing of Achnacone several years ago, the mantle of keeper of our clan's history was passed the Lady Sibyl Stewart of Appin, wife of our former Chief and mother of Andrew. She still resides on traditional
Stewart land in Appin.
The Stewarts of Appin are represented by organizations the world round. These fall into two basic categories, historical and ethnic. Each ethnic organization is supported by our Chief's family, and in being so, can be considered "official".
Clan Badge: A unicorn's head, crined and armed,
Motto: Quhidder Well Zie (Whiter will ye)
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