22 May 2013
17 May 2013
Like his brother he dreamt of a medical career; unlike John, Donald eventually fulfilled this dream, earning his doctorate from Cambridge in 1884 and being elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London two years later. However, much of his career was spent in academia, first as a tutor and lecturer at Cambridge, and later at Glasgow, where he was appointed principal in 1907 and chancellor in 1929. Sir Donald oversaw "an ambitious building programme" at Glasgow and the establishment of more than twenty new academic chairs, including obstetrics and gynaecology, pathology, Scottish History and literature, bacteriology, mercantile law, and applied physics. He published works on a similarly wide variety of topics, and was fluent in quite a number of languages. His many achievements
09 May 2013
On this day in 1649, 'Hector mc Alister of Lowpe' was among those commissioned by the Synod of Argyll to visit the Isle of Arran and examine that parish's minister, if they could find him. The synod wanted the Rev John Knox questioned concerning his position during the 'recent rebellion'. The significance of Loup's inclusion on this committee depends on which view is taken of Hector's own involvement in the rebellion. It certainly refutes the frequently made claim that Loup was the Hector Macalister hanged by the Marquis of Argyll in 1647. In fact, it appears to support the theory that Hector had stayed out of the rebellion entirely, despite his clansmen having fought and died for MacColla. After all, how could someone who had been in rebellion himself now be seen as sufficiently reliable to question others on their own involvement? A closer look at available records, however, hints at a more complicated story.
The Laird of Loup is first mentioned as an elder of the Kirk in May of 1643. Such a position suggests that his commitment to the Presbyterian church, in terms not only spiritual but also political, was considered reliable. In the years after this, however, he disappears from church records, as do several of the Kintyre churchmen. In fact, it seems that something was amiss in the presbytery of Kintyre. This is probably no coincidence. As has been mentioned previously, the loyalty of the Kintyre clans to the House of Argyll depended a great deal on their perception of Argyll's ability to enforce it. By May of 1644, the marquis was distracted by military matters and often out of the area. Meanwhile Alasdair MacColla had returned, supported by well-trained Irish troops and determined to regain at least some of the lands of his ancestors. The displaced Dunyvaig Macdonalds, to whom MacColla was closely related, had many friends in Kintyre – the Macalisters among them. By September of 1646, when "the troubles of the countrey" had left most of the parishes in the Synod of Argyll in chaos or abandoned, the presbytery of Kintyre was "under the power of the rebells".
Although no documentary evidence exists of the position taken by Hector of Loup, the hints we have suggest that at this point, he had abandoned the Covenanters and was himself one of those rebels. ‘Macalister of the Loup’ is named by a witness to the siege of Skipness Castle as one of those sent by MacColla to capture that Campbell stronghold, and the French diplomat Jean de Montereul also identified the Macalister chief as one of MacColla’s men. Based on the Macalisters' historical association with the Dunyvaig Macdonalds (and the fact that his daughter had recently married Alasdair MacColla himself), it is quite possible that Hector, like his clansmen, genuinely supported MacColla's efforts to recapture Macdonald lands. On the other hand, it’s also possible that, finding himself surrounded by vengeful and destructive Macdonalds, he simply thought it prudent to bury his true allegiance and assume his forefathers’ role as Clan Donald supporter.
In either case, the Macalister chief knew that his own survival depended on backing the victorious faction, and after MacColla’s defeat at the Battle of Rhunahaorine Moss (27 May 1647) Hector appears to have switched sides again. According to Montereul's letter of 11 June 1647, "the same night two chiefs of the clans, Macneil and Macalister" went privately to General Leslie and offered to abandon MacColla, "with all their followers, if they were assured of their lives and of their property, which the Marquis of Argyle . . . promised them."
Copyright (c) Lynn McAlister, 2013