I have finished rewriting the chapter on the MacHamish Gunns of Killernan. Many of these MacHamish Gunns have living descendants.
William Mohr cannot be the MacHamish of Killernan who fought - and led a force - on the Isle of Lewis in 1601 (see page 167 of Mark Rugg Gunn and see pages 272-273 of Sir Robert Gordon’s history). This is because William Mohr’s mother Barbara Mackay had to be born around 1570 as her father Hugh Du Mackay13th of Stathnaver is too well known, and his marriages and the birth details of his children are fully detailed in history. This makes Hugh about ten years old when a William MacHamish was part of the invading forces at Lewis.
This is further proof that MacHamish was not a title held by a single person at one time but was a word used to indicate a member of a family.
The William MacHamish Killernan fighting on the Isle of Lewis is actually William Mohr’s uncle, William Beag. Yes, William Mohr and William Beag are not brothers as Gunn myth has it…
Hugh MacDonald of Sleat did not marry Coroner Gunn’s daughter.
Firstly, be aware there is no mention of Hugh MacDonald of Sleat visiting Caithness in Sir Robert Gordon’s history.
Now some argue that the visit by Hugh MacDonald occurred in 1460 (Mark Rugg Gunn page 49 for example). Hmm. 1460? Sir Robert Gordon clearly wrote that Coroner Gunn was in power before the time of the Earls of Caithness and 1460 was very much ‘Earl time’.
The Earl of Caithness was in power before 1460 – and he was also Earl of the Orkney Islands and had to excuse himself from visiting Norway to visit his (other) King in 1460 as he had local bother with his ‘old enemy’ the Lord of the Isles, who was Hugh MacDonald of Sleat’s brother.
So we are meant to believe, if one accepts Gunn mythic history, that Hugh MacDonald visited Caithness after his battle in the Orkney islands where he helped fight the forces of the Earl of Caithness and Orkney (being the head of law and order in Caithness) and then dropped in for a visit to a minor representative of law and order in Caithness (namely, the Coroner) for a party and had it off with the Coroner’s daughter? Absurd. IF the Coroner had been alive (which he wasn’t) he would have clapped Hugh MacDonald and his crew in jail as traitors or otherwise the Coroner would have been jailed by the Earl.
And let’s not forget that what Hugh would have logically done after a big battle which was to go home with loot gained and return injured soldiers to their family, not go socialising.
The idea that Hugh MacDonald popped down to the Coroner in 1460 is historically silly and also logically absurd. Yes, I am sure that Hugh MacDonald had a relationship with a female Gunn – incidentally the first female Gunn known – but the idea that the Gunn was the Coroner’s daughter lacks logic.
I note that at least one of the histories of the Lords of the Isles (page 87 Alexander MacKenzie, ‘History of the MacDonalds and the Lords of the Isles’) has Hugh ‘married, secondly, a lady of the Clan Gunn of Caithness’. ‘Married’ is certainly questionable but note the lack of a Coroner Gunn link with the female Gunn…
So, Hugh MacDonald of Sleat did not marry Coroner Gunn’s daughter; he did, though, have a relationship with an unknown female Gunn.
(No idea why this is in capitals!)
I am going over the early, non-existent Gunn ‘Chiefs’ and thought it time to mention supposed ‘Chief Gunn’ Ottar Snaekollson again.
The ONLY evidence offered for Ottar Snaekollson in the Gunn ‘histories’ is his mention in the Norwegian Saga of the time; see Mark Rugg Gunn’s book page 31. I agree there was an Ottar Snaekollson but he was a Sudreyan Chief who lived near the Hebrides; he had nothing to do with the Gunns. Yes, more than one person can have the same name at one time…
Ottar Snaekollson was not the son of the supposed ‘Chief Gunn’ Snaekoll Gunnison for many reasons but the obvious one is simple – if you check Norwegian history you will find Ottar Snaekollson was in Bergen negotiating with the King of Norway in 1224 (being Mark Rugg Gunn’s page 31). But Snaekoll Gunnison – his supposed father if you believe the Gunn myths - had to be born around 1200 as his mother’s first husband died in 1198, and Snaekoll Gunnison descended from the second husband. This means if you accept ‘Clan’ Gunn myths ‘Chief’ Ottar Snaekollson had to be in Bergen negotiating with the King of Norway when he was aged around four years. That’s obviously impossible. And don’t forget this is the only ‘evidence’ offered for Ottar being the son of the supposed‘Chief’ Snaekoll in any Gunn history…
There is no proof that Snaekoll Gunnison married, had children nor returned to Scotland after his many years in disgrace in Norway. Gunn descent from Snaekoll completely lacks evidence; Gunns do not descend from the Orkney Islands.
I find it sad that the main USA Highland Games are held at Stone Mountain which is best known for its huge Confederate monument - and as such a memorial to racism - and its links to the KKK. Is Scottish heritage happy to be linked to Stone Mountain? Is the Clan Gunn Society of North America happy to go there?
It is surely possible to find another place to hold the Highland Games - and one without racist links...
Adam Mulbuie MacHamish Gunn
Whilst checking my MacHamish chapter I have solved the issue of Adam Mulbuie Gunn.
Rugg Gunn, Thomas Sinclair and the 1868/70 family trees all have Adam of Mulbuie as the first son of Donald the Scholar of Kinbrace. Mark Rugg Gunn has Adam of Mulbuie on page 240. Thomas Sinclair has him on pages 120-121. The Sinclair pages are not from the Appendix where he was writing about these 1868/70 family trees so presumably his information came from elsewhere.
Now Adam Mulbuie Gunn as the first son of Donald the Scholar of Kinbrace is just wrong as I have copies of the Sutherland Estate papers clearly showing the linked three generations of Gunn Kinbrace owners after Donald Gunn (until one Gunn relinquished the estate), and they are direct descendants from Donald. And Adam of Mulbuie was not one of them – and the first son of Donald of Kinbrace was William of Kinbrace. I note, as well, Mulbuie is nowhere near Kinbrace.
D. A. Young’s ‘The Book of Lybster’ does have an Adam Gunn who was tacksman of Mulbuie and whose son was the three time married Reverend Robert Gunn. Robert was the Reverend at Lybster from 1775 to 1819. Now the Reverend Robert Gunn and his father were descendants from Donald the Scholar - Adam Mulbuie Gunn was, in fact, the great, great grandson of Donald the Scholar.
I suspect Gunn history / genealogy confusion was caused by the Rev Robert Gunn knowing his family history and having a place in society where his descent from Donald the Scholar of Kinbrace could be made clear but over time ‘Adam of Mulbuie’ got misplaced due to the oral nature of much of the history at that time.
The descendants of Donald Gunn the Scholar of Kinbrace – and a MacHamish – are many.
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…