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MacGillivray Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: REVIRESCO (I grow strong again)

Let me unravel the remarkable saga of your family, the MacGillivrays. The roots of this name are believed to stretch into the Gaelic realm, embodying ‘Mac Gille Breith’ or ‘Mac Gille bhrath’, signifying ‘son of the servant of judgement’. This might point towards an ancestral vocation in the intricate tapestry of Celtic society, perhaps as officers within a lord’s court. A plethora of spelling variants like McGilvray and MacIlvray enrich the name’s diversity. Evidently, the MacGillivrays have long held significance in the Western Isles, their story predating even the vanquishing of Norsemen by Somerled in the twelfth century.

As history marched on, Alexander II’s dominion over Argyll, Morvern, and Lochaber in 1222 reverberated through your family. Dispersion was inevitable, yet some remained steadfast in Mull and Morvern, with the mantle of McGilvray lairds of Pennyghael gracing Mull’s shores. Your family’s chief line, steeped in tradition, is believed to have commenced in the thirteenth century. Gilbrai or Gillivray, an early central figure, found refuge under the shelter of Ferquhard, the fifth chief of the Macintoshes, as recorded in the annals of Macintosh chronicles. This marked your family’s affiliation with the revered Clan Chattan Confederation.

The MacGillivray chiefs etched their legacy in 1549 at their ancestral lands in Dunmaglas, Strathherrick – a stronghold steadfastly maintained for thirteen generations. In the enigmatic realm of 1300, Duncan MacGillivray, binding fates with Clan Mackintosh, wedded a daughter of their sixth chief. His son, Ivor MacGillivray, succeeded him only to fall in battle against Clan Cameron’s forces at Drumlui, a poignant reminder of your family’s courage. The Battle of Glenlivet witnessed the MacGillivrays, united with the Confederation, rallying under the banner of the Earl of Argyll against the forces of the Earl of Huntly, a historic confrontation with a bitter outcome.

A chorus of Jacobite fervor rang through the MacGillivrays, a sentiment echoing through the Fifteen and the Forty-five rebellions. The aftermath of Culloden echoed their journey across the Atlantic, where their indomitable spirit and resilience found success, especially as intrepid traders. Yet, the weight of 1890 compelled the relinquishment of Dunmaglass by Captain John MacGillivray, the thirteenth chief. The mantle was subsequently embraced by his cousin, John Farquhar MacGillivray, of Toronto. Since his passing in 1942, the clan has navigated uncharted waters without a chief.

A phoenix-like resurgence characterized the MacGillivrays in the late twentieth century, with clan societies flourishing worldwide. The pursuit of the chiefship bore no fruit, yet in 1989, Colonel George MacGillivray assumed the mantle of Clan Commander. His dedicated efforts nurtured your clan’s essence, but his departure in 1994 left a void. A new dawn emerged in 2016 with the appointment of a new Commander, Ian Donald MacGillivray, elected at a Family Convention and ratified by the Lyon Court. The path ahead shimmers with possibilities, illuminating your family’s journey through the corridors of history.

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Family Crest Motto: REVIRESCO (I grow strong again)

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