A Feud and a Murder

There was a slight twist to ownership of the lands where we live: it is all to do with archaic feudal rights, now happily abolished. All land in Scotland was held from the monarch, who gave Crown Charters to his subjects in exchange for military support in times of war, etc. On one side of Loch Fyne the land was mostly held from the Crown by the Campbells and the Scrymgeours, as discussed in the early history section. On the other, Cowal, side they were held by the MacLachlans and the Lamonts, but these Cowal lairds held small pockets of Glassary from the Crown too. Among MacLachlan’s holdings on our side were the farms of Gortengower (gortein-a-gobhar – Goatfield) and Drianlaith. Although they were part of the Ederline and Cumlodden estates the lairds paid feu duty to MacLachlan of Strathlachlan. This gave rise to the story that Goatfield got its name because it was where MacLachlan used to over winter his herds of goats.

In the early 17th century one of the MacLachlans was minister of Kilmorich & Lochgoilhead Parish, and his daughter married the MacNicol laird of Elrigmore in Glenshira. This led to the laird of Strathlachlan granting rentals to several MacNicol families, in Goatfield, Brenchoille, and Gallanach, behind Beinn Glas, in the 1660s. A generation later things had turned sour.

In 1692 a party of MacLachlans, led by the laird’s brother James, landed at what is now Sandhole and made their way over the hill to Brenchoille. When they got to the house of Patrick Og MacNicol they found he wasn’t in, but saw his son William in the garden. They took a few pot shots at him but he wisely ran away. The MacLachlans called at the house of Patrick’s brother, Archibald MacNicol in Gallanach, before heading home. However, they went back a few days later, found Patrick Og, and killed him.

The next incident in the feud occurred in Inveraray, when the laird Lachlan MacLachlan was staying at the Provost’s house in the old town. A party of MacNicols, from Glenshira, the Braes of Glenfyne, and Glenorchy, broke in and carried MacLachlan off, with cries of “blood for blood”. Fortunately the townsfolk rallied and retrieved the unfortunate laird before any harm was done. How do we know all this? Well, in April 1692 both cases were heard on the same day in Inveraray Sheriff Courthouse. The MacNicols were charged with “hamesucken”, a Scots form of kidnapping. Unusually for Inveraray Sheriff Court at that time nobody swung for their actions, and the feud seemed to die down