Ranald, Tutor of Loup

On this day in 1607, Ranald Mcalaster, tutor of Loup, signed a bond of manrent “to James Marquis of Hamilton . . . for himself and taking burden for Alester Makalester, Hector Mcalaster his brother, sons to the late Charles Mcalaster of Dowpyne [Dewpin], and all others of his kin and clan of Mcalaster binding them to do no hurt to the Isle of Arran, under a penalty of 6,000 merks, for 2,000 of which John Kennedy of Blairquhan is cautioner. Mcalaster signs by the hand of a notary. At Hamilton, 26 June 1607.”[1]

A ‘tutor’ was the person – often but not always a close relative – who took control of a deceased landowner’s estate when the heir was under the age of 14. For a brief time, the tutor was authorised to make decisions and alliances for the young heir – and indeed for the whole clan, as this bond illustrates; but when the ‘pupil’ came of age, the tutor was required to relinquish control.[2] The young Macalister chief at this time was Hector, 6th of Loup, whose father Godfrey had been the second son of Eachann (Hector), 3rd of Loup; Godfrey succeeded at the death of his elder brother, Alexander. It is possible that Ranald was a third brother in the same family and was thus young Hector’s uncle. However, I have no evidence for this and am not yet sure where Ranald fits into the family.

Judging from the phrasing of the bond, certain Macalisters at this time were still causing problems for the Isle of Arran.  The sons of Charles Mcalaster of Dewpin are mentioned specifically. They represent the future Kingsburgh family, who seem to have held Dewpin (later called Torrisdale) since at least 1541 and from whom descend both the Strathaird and Glenbarr lines. The property is on the eastern side of Kintyre, granting easy access for raids on Arran and Bute, if that is indeed what the sons of Charles were up to.

Whatever the specific details, this bond shows a Tutor of Loup going about the business that had been entrusted to him – protecting the chief’s interests by ensuring that his clansmen behaved themselves until the chief himself was old enough to control them.

Copyright (c) Lynn McAlister, 2012


[1]Hamilton Manuscripts (Historical Manuscripts Commission), p. 46.
[2]The relationship wasn’t always ideal — in 1597, Godfrey Macalister (Hector’s father) actually murdered his former tutor (A Macalister Murder), and more than one tutor over the centuries had trouble stepping aside when the time came. 
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