Campbell of Kilmory

On this day in 1589, Archibald Macalister, heir apparent of Tarbert, was named in a bond of caution signed by Sir James Campbell of Ardkinglas for the good behaviour of Donald Campbell of Kilmore (Kilmory) and Donald’s son Dougall. The Kilmory Campbells were “particularly aggressive and unruly, and gave much trouble to the family of Tarbert”, according to Castleton.[1] In fact, these men had been harrying, or possibly feuding with, several local lairds – in addition to Macalister, James Lamont of Inchirin and John MacSorley of Moneydrain are named.[2]

Bonds of caution could serve several purposes, but in cases like this, they were essentially restraining orders. Donald and Dougall Campbell were henceforce to leave Inchirin, Moneydrain, and the heir of Tarbert, as well as their tenants and servants, alone. Sir James, who was a kinsman of the Kilmory family, was required to put up £1,000 as surety for Donald’s compliance and £500 for Dougall’s. The money served a double purpose: Should the Kilmory Campbells continue to misbehave, it could be given as compensation to their victims, and the threat of its loss provided strong motivation for Sir James to keep his lawless relations in line. 

It appears that in this case, the bond of caution was effective; if further action was taken, I have found no mention of it. The next few glimpses we get of the Tarbert family have them in the role of aggressor, a role with which they seem to have been rather more familiar. There is however a mildly interesting post-script to the story: Prime Minister David Cameron is a direct descendant of the “aggressive and unruly” Donald Campbell of Kilmory.[3]

Copyright (c) Lynn McAlister, 2012

[1]Donald J. MacDonald of Castleton, Clan Donald, p. 167
[2]Alistair Campbell of Airds, A History of the Clan Campbell (vol. 2), p. 96
[3]Campbell is David Cameron’s 12-great-grandfather. (This information comes from, though the page’s owner gives no source. The descent can be traced through various editions of Burke’s Peerage – see

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