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…