It was (Sir Walter) Scott who, to add “aboriginal” colour to George IV’s “jaunt” to Edinburgh in 1822, invented the cult of the clan tartan … arguably one of his finer works of fiction.
'the tartan mania is not a disease which has grown less virulent over the years'.
‘Originally tartan designs had no (Clan) names and no symbolic meaning …’.
One can see how tartan of an area would historically occur – a person would dye wool using the natural colours of the district. But that district / regional tartan wasn’t named.
So, what happened? ‘In 1842 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Scotland. The young couple fell in love with the country, and tartan, which had been simmering for 20 years since the visit of King George IV, bubbled up again…. The brothers John and Charles Allen, calling themselves Sobieski Stuart, finally published Vestiarium Scoticum, (but which was based on drafts from the late 1820s on) which introduced 75 new tartans to the delight of the trade.’
Consider the Verstiarium Scoticum. The book’s authors presented the text ‘as historical proof of the connections between tartans and family clans, a link that previously had no record. The Stuarts’ claims were later found to be completely false; the tartans in the book were in fact designed by the brothers themselves. Even still, their fabrications are to this day widely accepted as authentic by manufacturers and families alike’.
So, a whole pile of named tartans were created for the Verstiarium Scoticum and given a fictional history so tourists would buy them. And Gunn tartan is in the book. Now there is a chance that this Gunn tartan reflected earlier tartan worn by Gunns and others near them – that chance offers one reason why Mackay, Gunn, MacWilliam and Morrison tartans look so similar. But named Gunn tartan is nothing more than a Victorian invention to get money from historically confused tourists and which continues to do so.
As I have said before so much of Gunn ‘history’ is mythology and named Gunn tartan is part of the mythology.
 http://www.the-tls.co.uk/tls/public/article1039746.ece accessed 15 July 2018.
 p. 167, Michael Brander, The Making of the Highlands, 1980 Constable, London.
 http://scottishtartans.org/downloads/fact_sheet_tartan.pdf accessed 15 July 2017.
 http://www.tartansauthority.com/research/researchers/james-grant/ accessed 15 July 2017.
 http://www.brooklynrail.org/2012/06/art_books/vestiarium-scoticum accessed 16 July 2017.
 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Tartans_from_the_Vestiarium_Scoticum accessed 16 July 2018. And is described on page 88 of the original book. I note it makes reference to the Gunns as Ghuine which gets back to the original name of the Gunns.
So, where does that leave the MacHamish story? Simply it is this -
Which leaves MacHamish being but a word to indicate any (male only?) member of the Killernan Gunns (from whom I descend) – and therefore one needs a new generation of MacHamishes every thirty years.
I am now writing up the MacHamish descendants – and there are many of them. These include the Hon. Donald Gunn of Manitoba, William Gunn of Waranga, the Hon. J. A. Gunn of NSW Australia and many more….
Here is a problem - (MacHamish) Captain Alexander Gunn of Badenloch was born around 1683. Fine. But his second wife was Anne / Ann Rose and she was born 12 September 1733. That's a fifty year age gap. I don't have the exact date of the wedding but let's say 1753 when she was twenty - that would mean her husband was seventy. I would have thought such a gap would have been remembered as it was not common then, nor today.
Why would she marry? Captain Alexander was not much of catch as he has lost a massive amount of money due to a huge legal battle he had with the Sutherland estate. Anne's younger sister Barbara married a Reverend only slightly older than her; why did Ann / Anne not do the same?
There has to be a reason for marrying someone fifty years your senior...
Changes to the Gunn MacHamish line
The William Mhor MacHamish Gunn story basically fails in its current form.
Let’s start off with rare things in Gunn history – facts. William Mhor’s mother was Barbara Mackay. Her father was Iye Du Mackay of Farr 12th of Strathnaver, chief of Clan Mackay. Barbara’s brother was Huistean (Hugh) Du Mackay, 13th of Strathnaver. Hugh Du Mackay’s children include Donald Mackay the 1st Lord Reay. You get the idea; their history is well known and properly recorded
Hugh Du Mackay was the first born child of Iye’s second marriage and Hugh Du Mackay was born in 1561; Barbara is the fifth child so let’s give her a birth date of 1570 (give or take few years). So this means William Mhor has an approximate birth date of 1590 (again give or take a few years). Fine.
And I do think he took over at Killernan, but in 1624 not 1614. But that’s another entry.
But now to the problems–
But we obviously have a William Gunn of Killernan with son Alexander then John mentioned. Doesn’t that sound like the traditional Gunn MacHamish line? Now I have copies of Sutherland Estate legal documents (Gunns get into a major legal brawl with the Sutherland Estate and it involves Edinburgh courts, but that’s again another entry) which clearly show, several times, the following descent
Now, I have always had problems with the idea that William Mhor and William Beag were brothers. I get that you can name a child after a child who had died, but two Williams at the same time just seems daft. And I have not come across the idea elsewhere.
Now suppose William Mhor died without issue.
Hmm. If William Beag was uncle (not younger brother) to William Mhor it would explain why no ‘place’ was given to the William at the start of the descent line in the legal documents – he didn’t have land. If it had been William Mhor the document would have said ‘of Killernan’. The William Mhor year problems for adult children vanish in a puff of smoke as the extra generation of ‘uncle’ William Beag allows the legal documents / criminal behaviour to work.
And given William Beag’s time fighting for the Earl of Sutherland one assumes the transfer of the Killernan wadset would be easy. The Earl of Sutherland visiting the Gunns of Killernan in 1602 also works – it wasn’t to visit the eleven year old William Mhor but the adult William Bheg.
This also means that the other known William Bheg sons Donald the Scholar and William of Acheneccan are the younger ones… Descendants from these lines are known.
There are many more reasons as to why this idea works and I am obviously writing it up. Yes, it all hangs on Barbara Mackay’s birthdate but believe me I have tried to find reason to challenge that but I just can’t…
‘Clan’ Gunn Society UK membership 2018
Interested to see that Clan Gunn Society UK membership continues to struggle with 311 members in 2018, 306 members in 2017 and 308 members in 2016.
When the CGSUK started in 1962 there were about 276 members, of those about 251 were UK residents. UK members in 2018 are roughly 187. That’s a massive drop from 1962. The drop is even more marked if one considers the growth in the UK population since 1962.
Of the new 2018 members there were 17 from the USA or Canada, just 4 came from the UK and no-one from any other country. Sort of sums up the membership problem of the CGSUK. Its message certainly does not appeal in the United Kingdom based on these new member numbers.
For more analysis on membership see clangunn1.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/clan-gunn-society-uk-membership-list.html
Morrison Gunn, born c. 1758
Morrison may have been six foot three inches.
It is supposed he joined the Second Battalion of the then 73rd Regiment - Lord Macleod’s Highlanders – on the basis that his brother joined the First Battalion and it is supposed that Morrison died at Gibraltar whilst part of that Second Battalion. These suppositions seem to originate from this story - ‘Morrison died of consumption, immediately after the siege of Gibraltar which he went through. He was most anxious to return to his native land as soon as the fortress was relieved, but his Colonel seeing that he had only a few days to live refused leave… The 2nd (Battalion) came home from Gibraltar in 1783…. Rev. Archibald Gunn, New Brunswick, Canada…says that the chief died not of consumption but of his wounds’. 
I think the whole Gibraltar idea is wrong. A Morrison Gunn was gazetted as a lieutenant from the war-office on 24 July 1779 to the Sutherland Fencibles which was raised in February 1779. The Fencibles recruits were from the Sutherland Estates. It was officially formed at Fort George (near Inverness) in February 1779 and then served at Edinburgh until it disbanded in 1783. It was a sort of ‘home guard’.
I suspect this Sutherland Fencibles lieutenant was ‘our’ Morrison Gunn as there were very few Morrison Gunns, the Sutherland Fencibles came from the Sutherland Estate where Morrison lived, Morrison had the example of his older brother joining the real army (an expensive occupation) and Morrison needed a job as the family no longer owned Estates as money had run out, especially after William’s commission had been bought. As well, the Sutherland Fencibles works with the being ‘refused leave’ of the original story; you could get leave from Edinburgh or Inverness far more sensibly than from war-torn, isolated Gibraltar. Also, this was the second incarnation of the Sutherland Fencibles, so supporting the use of ‘2nd’ in the original story. It is to be regretted that the records of the 2nd Sutherland Fencibles are minimal.
The Gibraltar story fails in its own right -
It is most likely, therefore, that Morrison died from consumption (given the lack of glamour of the death I suspect it may have a real origin), in Scotland, sometime after being commissioned on 24 June 1779 but the exact date – and cause - of his death is not known. Given William died 10 September 1780 it is not clear that Morrison was ever the most senior of the MacHamish line.
 Page 193, M. R. Gunn
 Page 196, M. R. Gunn
 The Great Siege of Gibraltar lasted 24 June 1779 – 7 February 1783.
 http://clangunn.weebly.com/thomas-sinclair-supplement-4-23-12-1902.html accessed 2 April 2018.
 http://www.electricscotland.com/history/sketches/highlandsketches91.htm accessed 2 April 2018.
 Page xii, R.H. Burgoyne, Historical Records of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, 1883 London, Richard Bentley and Son.
 https://www.archive.org/stream/historyofscottis02kelt#page/596/mode/2upaccessed 2 April 2018. Or http://www.electricscotland.com/history/scotreg/macleod/1777.htm
 http://www.electricscotland.com/history/scotreg/macleod/1777.htm accessed 2 April 2018.
 For example, John Drinkwater’s 1785 published A History of the Late Siege of Gibraltar. He was a member of the 72nd Regiment.
 Lord Lyon http://www.lyon-court.com/lordlyon/files/Gunn,%20Michael%20James%20-%20Interlocutor%20and%20Note.pdf accessed 1 April 2018 provides a date of 1 May 1785 for Morrison’s death; this seems unlikely. If the Gibraltar story had been true then Morrison needed to die before May 1783 when his battalion returned from Gibraltar. The Sutherland Fencibles had been disbanded in 1783. Some supporting evidence is required to accept Lord Lyon’s seemingly random date.
Alexander MacHamishes Gunn of Killernan
Concerning some of the missing MacHamish Gunns…
There is much rubbish talked about Alexander MacHamish Gunn of Killernan, not least as two different Alexanders were merged into one in MR Gunn’s book - see page 168 – and elsewhere.
An Alexander MacHamish of Killernan and of Navidale was born in the late 1590s and he was dead by January 1658. He was a younger brother of ‘Chief’ William Mhor Gunn. This Alexander married Dame Mary Lady Foulis whose first husband was dead by April 1635. A 1658 National Records of Scotland GD84/1/27/7 document has Alexander Gunn and Dame Mary Mackay Lady Foulis (Fowlis) specifically mentioned and noted as dead. No questions about it.
This 1658 document also has a John Gunn being ‘of Killernan’, the senior MacHamish person. I suspect he married Catherine Sinclair, but that’s another entry. An April 1670 document also records John as having the lands of Killernan, Navidale and ‘Balnavaliache’ so John was still head ‘of Killernan’ MacHamish Gunns twelve years later.
But people get confused because Alexander’s second son was called Alexander. It is this Alexander who married Christina Mackay, perhaps ‘with issue’. There is much fuss in MR Gunn (page 168) and Thomas Sinclair (pages 156-157) books about a 1668 document involving an Alexander and his wife. It’s about this Alexander and his wife Christina - not his parents as they have been dead for around ten years. When considering the document one needs to note it’s a draft, a proposal. Alexander’s brother John of Killernan had debt problems but this Alexander married well (although also a big spender). Was the 1668 document an attempt to buy Killernan from his brother John? As noted John was still ‘of Killernan’ in April 1670 so the 1668 document did not succeed. It is not clear whether this Alexander Gunn ever became of Killernan.
Time to put two Alexanders and John Gunn into MacHamish history.
I have just put another entry on John MacHamish in Navidale, perhaps of Killernan – one of the mythical Gunn Chief line, in the 'Clan' Gunn chief section. He was a criminal thug.
eldestI am obviously writing the chapter on MacHamishes (‘Clan Gunn Chiefs’ for the fantasists) at the moment. The more I look at it the more so much of it falls apart like most ‘clan’ Gunn history
One example - Thomas Sinclair gives the translation of a legal document on pages 151-152. The story is also summarised on page 167 of Mark Rugg Gunn. In essence the document says in 1620 John MacHamish in Navidale and Alexander MacHamish his brother were brutal criminals. Yep that’s the MacHamish line.
For the myth supporters the problem is that these two MacHamishes supposedly must descend one from the other but this document clearly says they were brothers. And the document clearly also has two MacHamishes in existence at the same time showing that MacHamish is not a special title only held by one person at a time which is another idea beloved by Gunn myth supporters.
Now William Mhor MacHamish cannot be born before about 1595 as his mother Barbara Mackay has to be born around 1570 as her eldest brother was definitely born in 1561 and Barbara is the fifth child. This clearly means that William Mhor is a brother to John in Navidale and Alexander as William Mhor is not old enough to have adult / late teenaged children being brutal thugs in 1620.
So, we now have William Mhor, John in Navidale and Alexander being brothers, time to redraw those MacHamish family trees!
There is a lot more evidence to support the above but this legal document of the time clearly makes the point.
Thanks for the comment below...
17 December 2017. I have just placed a longer discussion on MacHamish as the first entry under 'Clan' Gunn Chief issues.
The Alexander MacHamish problem, part 2
There is a huge problem with the traditional view of Alexander MacHamish, the great grandson of Coroner Gunn.
Alexander’s supposed father William was joint second in charge of the Sutherlanders who fought at the Battle of Torran Dubh in 1517; a person who is in that position has to be, say, 35 years old. It is fair to assume that William would have had this supposed son Alexander by then. So let’s say this Alexander was born 1510.
But the traditional Alexander’s wife Barbara’s birth date is approximately known as her older brother Hugh has a birth date of 1561. So we can say Barbara was born around 1570. Okay, these dates are approximate but it’s roughly a sixty years age gap between Alexander and Barbara – and don’t forget Barbara MacKay is only Alexander’s first wife…
Traditional Gunn history just does not work. A new history is needed
I would suggest for Gunn history