Hector and Margaret of Kilberry

On this day in 1620, Hector Macalister, 6th laird of Loup, married Margaret Campbell. Margaret was the daughter of Colin Campbell of Kilberry, who had died the previous year.

Because of his marriage to a Campbell, Clan Donald historians have traditionally assumed that Hector sided with the Covenanters (or at least didn’t stand in their way) during Alasdair MacColla Macdonald’s 1647 reign of destruction in Kintyre, despite the fact that the Loup family had always been Royalists and followers of the Clan Donald (from whom they originally sprang). As is often the case, however, the situation was more complicated than it appears. To begin with, although his brother-in-law was a Campbell, his son-in-law was in fact Alasdair MacColla, which means Hector was equally connected to both sides.[1] If being related by marriage to a collateral branch of the Campbell clan might make him lean towards the Campbell chief, would being related by marriage to MacColla himself not make him even more inclined to support his traditional Clan Donald ally? In fact, Campbells, Macdonalds, Macalisters, Macleans and other local clans had been intermarrying for centuries, and although these marriages did occasionally succeed in forging alliances between rival families, such alliances never lasted very long. If Hector’s course were chosen based on whom he was connected to, it would have made most sense for him to simply lie low.

The few records that exist, however, suggest that Hector did not take that path. At the time that David Leslie’s force passed by Tarbert (which again has been taken as evidence that the Macalisters ‘allowed’ the Covenanters access to Kintyre), Hector was among those besieging Skipness Castle on MacColla’s orders.[2] He is later said to have been one of two clan chiefs who approached General Leslie after the Royalist defeat at Rhunahaorine, offering to renounce their allegiance to MacColla in exchange for assurances that their clans would not be destroyed by the victors.[3] This would seem to suggest that such an allegiance had in fact existed.

In any case, Hector was not at Dunaverty with those of his clansmen who died there, he did not lose his lands like longtime associates such as Macdonald of Largie, and he is on record in later years in roles of responsibility in Kintyre. Whatever his final position in the conflict of the 1640s, the marriage contracted 11 March 1620 was destined to last for many years and produce several children. One of them, Godfrey, succeeded his father as chief of the clan about 1664. Margaret outlived her husband – she is on record in 1670.

Copyright (c) Lynn McAlister, 2012

[1]That Hector’s daughter married MacColla seems to be accepted by everyone, including historians as respected as David Stevenson and Colm McNamee. Documentary evidence is said to exist, but I feel obligated to acknowledge that I have not yet seen it myself. However, without evidence to the contrary, I have no real reason to doubt those who have.
[2]A. Campbell of Airds, History of the Clan Campbell, vol. II, pp. 238-9
[3]Letter of 11 June 1647 from French ambassador Jean de Montereul to Cardinal Mazarin (J. G. Fotheringham, pp. 151-2). MacColla was at this time evacuating the main part of his force to Islay on its way to Ireland. In light of the fact that many of MacColla’s local supporters were massacred at Dunaverty only a couple of weeks later, making nice with Leslie was probably the wisest move these men could have made.

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