Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2002-07 > 1028055034

Subject: Re: Alexander/Donald line out of Scotland
Date: Tue, 30 Jul 2002 14:56:33 EDT

Tuesday, 30 July, 2002

Hello Pam,

The time frame of your query is certainly medieval, so this must be 'the

As to the use of a patronymic (MacAlistair, or McAllister for example) or
other surname with a patronymic origin (Alexander), this was a matter of
personal preference or selection. For example, the basic line of descent of
the MacDonald Lords of the Isles runs as follows (as you noted):

Somerled 'mac Gillebride' = Ragnhild
Dougal Ranald, 1207 Angus
[Dubhgal] I
Donald mac Ranald, d. ca. 1250
Angus Mor mac Donald = ____ Campbell
Angus Og [1] = Agnes O'Cathan
d. 1330 I
1) Amy mac = Eoin 'John the Good' = 2) Margaret
Ruarie I d. 1387 I Stewart
________I___________ ______I____________
Ranald Eoin others Donald Alasdair others
[2] [3] [4]

Of the above individuals, only Angus Mor was technically 'mac Donald'
[son of Donald]; his son Angus Og was actually Angus mac Angus, as his son
Eoin was Eoin mac Angus, but the adoption of MacDonald as a surname for the
family [as a personal choice, or subsequent adoption from a scribal
convention] stuck for the 'main branch' of the family, down through Donald,
Lord of the Isles [3]. The Gaelic designation, Clan Donald, actually means
'the family of Donald'.

The descendants of Ranald [2], having been displaced as the heads of Clan
Donald, are known as Clan Ranald [i.e., MacDonald of Clan Ranald]. The
descendants of Alasdair [Gaelic for Alexander] were the MacDonnells of
Keppoch, among others. [NOTE: This was not Alasdair, or Alexander,
MacDonald, Lord of the Isles - that was the son of his brother Donald.]

Any number of choices might actually have occurred: nothing would
necessarily have stopped the descendants of Donald mac Ranald from adopting a
surname such as MacRanald, MacAngus, or MacEoin [MacEwen is a common name].
There is a branch named MacAlister, which took their name from an Alisdair
descended from the MacDonalds of the Isles, but I see no specific notes at
hand that give a direct connection for this family. As there were
undoubtedly anglicisations of these names over time [MacEwen = Johnson], it
is certainly believable that one or more MacAllisters may have adopted a name
such as Sanderson, or Alexander. Substantiating such a name change, and a
direct connection from a Sanderson or Alexander to a MacAllister descended
from the Lords of the Isles, would be quite a challenge.

How far back has the Alexander family of Stirling been traced? It is not
impossible that a branch of a family with a Highland or Hebridean origin
might have established itself on the border with the Lowland areas, or even
farther: the Campbells of Loudoun (Ayrshire) are one good example I am
familiar with. Such a 'relocation' was, however, not typical, or at least
not well known.

A last point on your question re: Eoin ('John the Good') and his second
marriage. His second wife was Margaret, an elder daughter of Robert the
Stewart [later Robert II, King of Scots], whom he married circa 18 July 1350.
Her father was then 'merely' Steward of Scotland, and heir apparent to then
King David II. The children of this marriage were legitimate: there was a
dispensation for the marriage [the July 1350 date given above], as they were
related in the 4th and 5th degrees of consanguinity. Their eldest son Donald
succeeded his father as Lord of the Isles, with the elder children of Eoin's
first marriage to Amy MacRuarie being shunted aside - when Donald succeeded
in 1387, his grandfather was King Robert II, so there was no question on whom
the Crown preferred.

Hope this helps.

John *

* John P. Ravilious

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