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MacDougall Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: IBUAIDH NO BAS (Conquer or die)

Let me share with you the captivating history of your family, the MacDougalls. Your family is the senior branch of the princely House of Somerled, tracing back to the eldest son of the legendary Somerled, King of the Hebrides and Regulus of Argyll. Somerled held an esteemed position as one of the most influential figures in Scotland, second only to the King of Scots.

Dougal, or Dugald, the eldest son of Somerled, inherited the heartland of his father’s domain. His realm extended from Argyll, encompassing Morvern to the northern edge of Knapdale. This territory also included Mull, Jura, Tiree and Coll, Kerrera, Lismore, and several smaller nearby islands.

During the early phases of the Scottish Wars of Independence, your family, much like the Comyns, fought on the side of Scotland. Yet, during a critical juncture, when Robert the Bruce and his men slew John of Lorn’s cousin, the Red Comyn, inside the Church of the Greyfriars in Dumfries in 1306, your family’s Chief sided with the English. This decision was rooted not in an anti-Scottish sentiment, but rather a stance against Bruce.

This choice ignited a tragic family conflict. Alexander, the 4th Chief of MacDougall, and his son, John of Lorn, opposed Bruce, while Duncan, Alexander’s younger brother, along with a group of MacDougall men, fought in support of Robert the Bruce.

An episode of near capture of Bruce by John of Lorn’s forces underscores this internal strife. Among the cherished heirlooms within your family, you hold the Brooch of Lorn, believed to have been torn from Bruce’s cloak during his escape.

Following the Battle of Bannockburn, John of Lorn sought refuge in England, where he was appointed as the English Admiral of the Western Seaboard by Edward II. In this role, he effectively hindered Scottish garrisons in the West Highlands until his capture in 1318, eventually passing away from natural causes.

Opposing Robert the Bruce came at a price for the MacDougalls, as their lands were forfeited. However, Ewan, John of Lorn’s son, was treated well as a prisoner and managed to restore the Clan’s fortune through his marriage to King Robert’s granddaughter, Joan, daughter of Lady Matilda Bruce. The Lordship of Lorn was reinstated, but the islands, except Kerrera, remained lost.

Ewan MacDougall of MacDougall had two daughters, Jonette and Isabella, and no sons. Around 1386, the sisters married two brothers – Sir John and Sir Robert Stewart of Innermeath and Durrisdeer. This intricate Celtic system of succession led the Lordship of Lorn to pass onto the Stewart Family. The Chiefship of MacDougall, governed by the Laws of Tanistry, which allow the Clan to choose its Chief, eventually fell to a cousin named Iain. The present Chief of your family is directly descended from him.

Your family’s unwavering support for the Stuarts is evident. In 1715, your 22nd Chief’s wife defended Dunollie Castle against Government forces while her husband was engaged in the Jacobite army at Sheriffmuir. Though the estate faced confiscation, it was eventually returned to your family. The legacy of the MacDougalls continued to persevere, even though not all took part in the Battle of Culloden. Alexander, the 23rd Chief, abstained and instead expanded the family’s residence behind Dunollie Castle. This dwelling was later extended by the 25th Chief in the mid-19th century.

The MacDougall name flourishes in specific regions of Scotland, most prominently in the Western Isles, Glasgow City, Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, Argyll and Bute, Perth and Kinross, Highland, Lanarkshire, and Ayrshire. Your family’s journey through history is a testament to resilience, enduring traditions, and the legacy of those who shaped its remarkable narrative.


The Family Crest

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Family Crest Motto: BUAIDH NO BAS (Conquer or die)



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