McGregor

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McGregor Surname Genealogy

MacGregor
is a Scottish clan name, from Mac
or “son of” and the personal name Gregory (from the Greek Gregorios),
a name which became popular in Europe through Pope
Gregory.  The Gaelic version of the name
was MacGriogair.
MacGregor as a name
was banned by King James VI of Scotland in the early 17th century
because of
the unruliness of the clan.  But the name
has survived.  The main spellings today
are MacGregor and McGregor,
with
McGregor being the more common.

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McGregor Resources on
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McGregor Ancestry

Scotland.
MacGregor clan origins

are lost in the mists of time.  Their first
recognizable chief may have been
the 14th century Gregor of the Golden Bridles, followed by Ian Cam
(meaning
“one eyed”) MacGregor who died in 1390 at Glenorchy in Argyllshire,
their
traditional home.

“Ian
Cam was buried on the north side of the high altar in Dysart near
Dalmally, the
old church at Glenorchy.  This continued to
be the burial place of the MacGregor chiefs until 1528. A number of
stone
coffins together with foliated tomb slabs each showing in a panel the
figure of
an armed warrior with spear and two-handed sword, short tunic and high,
conical, pointed helmet were found.”


Early History
  From their base at
Glenorchy, MacGregor lands extended eastward
in
the Central Highlands
into
Glen Strae and Glen Lyon in Perthshire and towards Loch Lomond in
the Trossachs. They held doggedly to the
old Celtic clan rule of defending possession by the sword.

However, they had powerful aggressive
neighbors in the Campbells who constantly harried them, forcing them to
retire
deeper into their lands around Glen Strae.  By the late 16th
century there was a renegade band of McGregors left known in Gaelic as
the Children of the Mist.

In 1588 these MacGregors were involved in the killing of John Drummond, the
king’s forester, after he had hung some MacGregors for poaching.  Then in 1603, after the Colquhoun clan had
been granted a royal commission to suppress the MacGregors, Alasdair
MacGregor of
Glen Strae led four hundred of his men to Glen Fruin near Loch Lomond
where
they slew many Colquhouns.

“Some
say the MacGregors were rustlers and
thieves.  Whether there was any truth in this or whether
circumstances forced this
upon them or whether it was all a smear campaign to undermine their
reputation is
open to question.  But they certainly
paid the price.”


Banning of the Name
  In retaliation King James VI of
Scotland abolished the name of
MacGregor
.  All who bore the name
must renounce it or
die.  The next year

Alasdair MacGregor

and
eleven of his men were captured and hung outside St. Giles kirk in
Edinburgh by
the tollbooth.  Anyone answering to the name was executed on the
spot, with women
and children sold into slavery in the American states.

Amelia MacGregor’s 1898
book The History of the Clan Gregor
covered this clan history until 1625.

The ban on the MacGregor name remained in
effect until 1774.  During this time the surviving
MacGregors continued in two groups. The first were those who
legally changed their name
to satisfy the law, although they
may not
have changed
their heart or blood. The other group were those who took to the
Highlands and
continued to use their Gregor names in defiance.

Rob Roy, who was forced to use his mother’s
maiden name of Campbell due to the proscription of the MacGregor name,
was a
younger son of the MacGregor of Glengyle (which lay by Loch Katrine in
Stirling). Rob Roy took part in the
first Jacobite Uprising in 1715. Afterwards his raids on Lowland farms
and his
prowess with the sword earned him a reputation which was considerably
enhanced
by Sir Walter Scott’s romantic tales.  He
was buried in Balquhidder churchyard.

Restoration of the Name.  To restore some pride in the clan, it was felt that a
clan chief needed to be re-established.
A petition signed by 826 MacGregors declared that General John
Murray of
Lanrick in Stirling should be the true chief.  Murray was in fact
a MacGregor
descended from Duncan MacGregor of Ardchoille who had died in
1552.  His son Sir
Evan MacGregor played a ceremonial role in the visit of King George IV
to Scotland in
1822
.

England.  Some
MacGregors made it to England, such as Alexander
MacGregor from Thorn Hill in Perthshire:

“It
was said that four brothers, the sons of John McGregor of Thorn Hill,
came to
New York in 1781 or thereabouts.  Three of
these
brothers – James, William, and John – remained; while Alexander
returned across
the ocean and settled in Liverpool.


Alexander prospered as a merchant and
banker in
Liverpool.   In 1826 he was appointed
as
an agent for the Bank of England to open its Manchester branch, its
first
outside London.  One son James became an English MP, another son
Walter Fergus
owned a thriving iron foundry in Liverpool. His
son the Rev. William MacGregor was
a generous benefactor of the town of Tamworth in Staffordshire and a
famous amateur
Egyptologist.

America.  McGregors
are not numerous in America.  The numbers
today are in fact less than those
in Canada or Australia.  The proscription
of the McGregor name in Scotland during the 17th and 18th centuries may
have
had something to do with it.  For
instance, William MacGregor, caught up in the failed 1715 Jacobite
Uprising,
came to America and Perth Amboy, New Jersey as William Skinner soon
after.

Family
tradition has Alexander MacGregor arriving from Scotland with the
British army
in 1775, but then changing sides and fighting on the American side in
the
Revolutionary War.  He later owned a farm
in Oyster Bay, New York.  Subsequent
MacGregors
of the family were blacksmiths in New Haven, Connecticut.

John and Anne
MacGregor came to New York from England in the late 1700’s.  Their grandson Alexander headed west in 1832,
first to Chicago (when its population was less than 100) and then to
Wisconsin
where he operated a ferry service across the Mississippi.
In 1848, newly-married and with a family in
tow, he founded a new community that became known as McGregor, Iowa.

Canada.
McGregor immigration began in the late 1700’s, initially into
the
Maritime provinces and later into Quebec and Ontario.

Nova Scotia  James
MacGregor from Perthshire answered the call for an English and Gaelic
preacher
for the Scottish community at Pictou and departed there in 1786.  He was a fervent advocate of the Presbyterian
church until his death in 1830.  His son
Peter was a Presbyterian minister in Halifax, his grandson James a
gifted
academic who in 1901 became Professor of Natural Philosophy back in
Edinburgh.

The MacGregors of South River Lake in Antigonish county were known as
the Red
Rock MacGregors, apparently because of their Scottish ancestor Donald
“ruadh”
MacGregor.  His son Donald, a Baptist
deacon, came to this area in 1832 and died there sixty years later.  His descendants spread into Ontario and the
western provinces.

Another Donald MacGregor came to Cape Breton Island from the
Scottish Highlands around this time.  His
son Donald, who changed the spelling of his name to McGregor, moved to
New
Zealand in 1852 and settled in Whangerei.  Alexander and Roderick
McGregor also
made the voyage from Cape Breton Island to New Zealand, in this case in
1859.  Alexander founded the Northern
Steamship Company in Auckland. 

Elsewhere.  Alexander McGregor and his
wife Ellen came to
Canada from Fortingall in Perthshire in 1817 and made their home in
Huntingdon,
Quebec.  Son James was Principal of
Huntingdon Academy and later Inspector of Schools.
Curiously, a descendant Norman changed the
spelling of his name from McGregor to MacGregor when he emigrated to
Pennsylvania in 1900.

Joan and Margaret McGregor came out to Sarnia, Ontario
from Paisley in Scotland in 1830.  Their
son William was a prominent businessman and politician in Windsor and
their
grandson Gordon founded the Ford Motor Company of Canada.  A
McGregor family has
been farming at McNab Braeside in the Ottawa Valley since 1856.  Five generations of McGregor’s have farmed
here and the current crew now includes three generations.

South Africa.
From Golspie in the far north of Scotland came the
Rev. Andrew McGregor, a minister of the Church of Scotland, who was
recruited to
the Cape colony by Scots already there.
He arrived in 1862 and he and his wife Lily raised six children
in the
colony.

The eldest Alexander became a judge, as did his son Michael who was
later Chief Justice of South Africa.  A
younger son Murray was the headmaster of the Blythswood Scottish
mission in the
Transkei.  His son Chris became a
well-known jazz pianist and bandleader.
Meanwhile the youngest child, a daughter named Henrietta who was
the
family historian, lived to be a hundred, dying in 1979.

Another Alexander
McGregor was one of the diamond pioneers in South Africa.
He was elected Mayor of Kimberley in 1886.  After
his death his wife funded the Alexander
McGregor Memorial Museum in Kimberley which was opened in 1907 and
still
stands.

Australia and New ZealandWilliam
McGregor
was a shepherd who departed rural Inverness for
Australia in
1838.  He made his home in East Maitland,
NSW.

Jock McGregor, a whaler from Perthshire, was an early arrival in New
Zealand, coming to Wanganui from Australia in 1836.
Although he married in New Zealand, he left
no descendants.  Gregor McGregor, from
Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, was another inhabitant of Wanganui, having
reached
New Zealand on the Blenheim in 1840.
Her and his wife Catherine raised eight sons
and six daughters.  Their family story
was recounted in Bruce McGregor’s 1991 book Gregor
and Catherine McGregor
.


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McGregor Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:


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McGregor Names

Robert Roy MacGregor,
usually known simply as Rob Roy,
was a famous Scottish folk hero and outlaw of the early 18th century.
Gregor
MacGregor
was a Scottish soldier, adventurer and colonizer who
fought in
the South American struggle for independence in the early 1800’s. 

Sir Evan MacGregor

was the clan chief who
played a prominent part in the visit of King George IV to Scotland in
1822
after the MacGregors had been restored to respectability.
Ian
MacGregor was
the Scottish-American mining industrialist who was in charge of the UK
National
Coal Board at the time of the 1984 miners’ strike
.

Select McGregors Today

  • 22,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Glasgow)
  • 7,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 25,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

 

 

 

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