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1745–6:the ’Forty-Five” (final Jacobite rising): The Jacobites advance almost as far south as London before hesitancy leads to their being forced into retreat by Hano- verian forces under General Cumberland. Contrary to popular belief, the ’45 was not a fight for Scottish independence, nor was it a struggle between Highlanders and Lowlanders. The Stuart Pretenders sought to regain the throne of Britain as a whole, not just Scotland’s, and more Scots supported the Hanoverians than the Jacobites, fearing the victory of a ‘popish’ king [MacLeod, p. 8]. Although Jacobite forces were disproportionately Highland, there were certainly Lowland and even English Jacobites as well—parts of the Scottish lowland northeast, for example, were considered hotbeds of Jacobite sympathy, and Bruce Seton lists numerous Englishmen who deserted the Hanoverian army in order to fight for the prince. Furthermore, several prominent Highland clans, including most (not all) of the Campbells, Rosses and Mackays, fought for the Hanoverians.[1] The Stuart forces (Jacobites) were primarily Catholic and Episcopalian[2], the Hanoverians mostly Protestant—though religion in the UK, even today, often has as much to do with political identity as with personal beliefs.

1. The Clan Alasdair is divided: The chief[3] is a Jacobite, but Archibald of Tar- bert supports the Hanoverians ["Fortiter", Jan. 1982, p. 4] and allows Lord Loudoun to station his regiment at Tarbert for the purpose of preventing known Jacobites like Loup and MacDonald of Largie from sailing to join the “Bonnie Prince"; Hector McAlister of Arran (son of Coll who emigrated in 1739) raises a force of men to support Prince Charles, but they cannot get past Loudoun [CMS(2), pp. 30-1; W M Mackenzie, p. 111].

2. According to the Muster Roll of Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s Army, 1745–6, Allan vic Murdo McAllister of Glenfinnan serv[es] in the regiment led by MacDonald of Clanranald, and seven MacAlasdairs serv[e] under Glengarry [Muster Roll, pp. 141, 154]. In February, Archibald McAlister is "arrested in Apindale in Perthshire on suspicion of being a rebel, but declares he is from Glengary and had no relation- ship with the rebels. Says he will get a certificate of loyalty from the Presbyterian minister in Glengary" ['Declarations of rebel prisoners at Perth', Reference: B59/30/72(1),].

3. Culloden (16 April 1746): “[T]he bloodiest of the Jacobite engagements and the last pitched battle to be fought on British soil” sets roughly 9000 Hanoverians against perhaps 4500 sleep-deprived and hungry Jacobites. “The battle [i]s all over in an hour . . . but the slaughter continue[s] until nightfall and resume[s] again next day; and for weeks thereafter the round-up and the bloody reprisals continu[e].”[4] Hanoverian losses are about 300; Jacobite losses (on and off the field) closer to 2000 [Keay, pp. 204–205]. Survivors (including the Bonnie Prince, who escapes back to France) scatter and hide [though many of the Highland survivors reassem- bled at Ruthven barracks, prepared to fight on, which is quite remarkable, consid- ering what they'd just survived; Charles Stuart announced that all was lost and gave them orders to save their own lives], and the Jacobite dream finally comes to an end. Clan Alasdair as a whole does not fight at Culloden, but the Loup family supports the Jacobite cause, and there are MacAlisters among the Clan Donald contingent [Muster Roll, pp. 141, 154; CMS(2), p. 27; see 1745-6, #3, 5; Edward Mc- Allister of Stevenage, England, tells me that the new visitor’s centre at Culloden has a battle plan in which the Clan Alasdair is listed with MacDonald of Glengarry].

4. (5 May 1746) Six of the clan are among about 70 members of Glengarry's regi- ment who surrender in Inverness on this day and the next [Muster Roll, p. 154]. Seton does not tell us what happened to these MacAlasdairs, but the majority of those who surrender are transported, most of them to Barbados or Antigua [Prisoners].

5. The Kingsburgh family is “involved perilously in the wanderings of Prince Charles Edward before his escape to France” [“News”, no. 14, p. 3]; the prince, who arrives at the Trotternish estate late at night, disguised as Flora MacDonald’s maid, departs the following day wearing one of Ranald Macalister’s kilts [Kings- burgh document; Douglas/Stead, p. 106].[5] (At the time of the ’45, the Clan Alasdair is evidently still wearing the MacDonald tartan [“News”, no. 30, p. 1].)

1746:  1. (13 February) Commissary Court records show the testament of Charles McAlester of Tarbert is confirmed on this day [Dobson, Migration, p. 53]; note: this testament is also recorded as confirmed in December of 1741. If this is the 8th laird, 1741 would make most sense as that is the year that he died. However, per- haps the family’s bankruptcy and the sale of its lands in 1746 required that it be re- viewed?

            2. Tarbert family goes bankrupt, losing its lands and castle. The primary family sells its remaining lands in Kintyre to Lord Stonefield, but many of the Tarbert Mac- Alisters remain in the area. Others emigrate to the colonies [CMS, pp. 10–19]; still others appear later as merchants and shipowners in Glasgow and  Campbeltown [CMS, pp. 10, 37; Dobson, Migration, pp. 52-4]. Ian MacDonald suggested that “[t]he main reason for the loss of the estates [i]s very probably the requirements of the 1511 charter . . .” which called for MacAlasdairs to keep up Tarbert Castle, host the Earl of Argyll at their own expence, and provide boats and men for ferrying the King [CMS, pp. 9–10]—although some contemporary locals suggest that the debts result from “[Archibald’s] wine merchant’s bills”! [Mitchell, p. 78]. Archibald, the last laird, becomes a merchant in Campbeltown (see 1752) [CMS, p. 15; CMS(2), p. 38]; principal line of descent after the 9th laird cannot be traced with any certainty, al- though descendants of this family are numerous. Descendants of Archibald's bro- ther Matthew will later be recognised as the representatives of the Tarbert line. According to the Lord Lyon, Duncan MacAlister of Tarbert married Janet Macalister of Strathaird, and their descendants are the Strathaird Macalisters (making the Strathaird family a branch of the Tarberts), but where this Duncan fits in the Tar- bert descent is unclear to me. He is too young to be Duncan, son of Charles the 8th laird.

2. Kingsburgh Manuscript written (original handwritten copy is at Glenbarr Ab- bey); author’s name isn't given, but it was probably Anne Macalister [CMS(2), p. 1].

1747: 1. Name of Ranald Macalister appears as factor of Strathaird estate in Skye [CMS(2), p. 1].

           2. (7 December) Commissary Court records confirmed the testament of Coll McAl- ester of Islay [Dobson, Migration, p. 53].

1748:  (5 May) Alexander McAlester appears in the Services of Heirs (National Archives of Scotland) as heir to his brother Coll, ‘late baillie of Islay’ [Dobson, Migration, p. 52].

1749:  (7 September) Commissary Court records again confirmed the testament of Coll McAlester of Islay [Dobson, Migration, p. 53].

1750:   Allan MacDonald of Kingsburgh, brother-in-law of Ranald Macalister (see 1742;

           1745–6, marries Jacobite heroine Flora MacDonald [Keay, p. 649].

1752:   death of last Tarbert laird

Archibald Macalister, merchant in Campbeltown, dies. Ian MacDonald believes this is probably the 9th [and last] laird of Tarbert [CMS, p. 15; CMS(2), p. 38].

1754:   Hector McAlester, son of Dr McAlester, is hired as a sailor for a voyage from Jura to the Cape Fear settlement, and from there to the West Indies and back home. Admiralty Court records show that in fact he deserts at Cape fear, where he has friends [Dobson, Migration, pp. 53-4].

1756:  1. (9 September) Angus McAlester of Loup admitted as a burgess of Inveraray [Dobson, Migration, p. 53].

            2. New Yorker William Alexander petitions the House of Lords to be recognised as Earl of Stirling [CMS, p. 44].

1757:   John McAlester of Ardnakill and Torrisdale, together with his grandson [or possibly son] John, receives perpetual feu of the lands of Cour and Srindale from Campbell of Stonefield; the younger John has no heirs [CMS, p. 32]. Note: This may be the father and nephew of Ranald of Kingsburgh; see 1742.

1758:  1. An Alexander McAlester, writer in Campbeltown, named in the Admiralty Court records [Dobson, Migration, p. 52]; he is mentioned again in 1764.

          2. Admiralty Court records mention Coll McAlester, probably a sailor on the Chris- tian of Campbeltown, and Duncan McAlester, a merchant in Campbeltown [Dob- son, Migration, p. 53].

1762:   1. Tarbert Family sued

Argyll takes court action against the creditors of Macalister of Tarbert for terms of 1511 charter; [CMS, p. 10]. Mitchell explains the suit as follows:


While the M’Alisters were yet in prosperous circumstances, they had built for themselves the man- sion-house at Barmore . . ., and the castle being no longer required to serve its original purpose of a fort, its condition was neglected, contrary to the stipulations of the old charter. . . . In prosecuting his suit before the Lords of Session, Argyll admitted that the obligation contained in the charter to keep and defend the castle for the use of the Superior could not now be lawfully enacted, while he also agreed to pass from the clause obliging the vassal to support the fabric and maintain it wind and water tight for the reception and entertainment of the Superior gratis, provided the vassal became bound to uphold the mansion house lately built on the feu in the same manner and for the same law- ful purpose. The clause referring to the boat and rowers he also insisted on, and contended that these several prestations should be performed and declared real burdens on the estate. For the creditors it was objected that the obligations of keeping up a house and a boat for receiving and en- tertaining the Superior, and for transporting him from one place to another, fell under an Act of George I, which discharges all personal services and attendance of vassals on their Superior, and ordains the same to be converted into an annual value in money.


Argyll argues that the obligations abolished by that act are only those that enabled the superiors to convocate their vassals. A preamble to the statute specifies that other services are still binding. The court rules in Argyll’s favour [Mitchell, pp. 79– 82].[6]

2. (May) Peter Macalister, later an officer in H. M. Revenue Service, born on island of Cumbrae in the Firth of Clyde; he marries Grisel (or Grace) Stewart. Three of their children are born in Cumbrae, the younger three in Campbeltown. Youngest daughter, Grace, marries William Hall, a Campbeltown merchant [CMS, p. 24; “Fortiter”, Aug. 1982, p. 3].

3. Death of Ranald of Kingsburgh (see 1742; 1745–6, #4; 1747); his family returns to Kintyre [CMS, p. 33; CMS(2), p. 2].

4. The claim of William Alexander of N.Y. to the earldom of Stirling is rejected; he “nonetheless adopt[s] the name of Lord Stirling on his own authority” [CMS, pp. 44–5].

1764:  Alexander McAlester, writer in Campbeltown, mentioned again in the Admiralty Court records [Dobson, Migration, p. 52].

1765:   1. birth of Charles McAlester, later 12th of Loup

           2. Alexander McAlester, merchant, is mentioned in the Admiralty Court records this year (this is Alexander, son of Ranald of Skye) [Dobson, Migration, p. 52]; see also 1771, 1774.

1767-8: Admiralty Court records name an Archibald McAlester as master of the Jean; in March of the following year Mr McAlester is named in the Exchequer records as master of the Lockhart of Tarbert, sailing from Greenock of Newfoundland [Dob- son, Migration, p. 53].

1769:   Admiralty Court records mention Charles McAlester and Lauchlan McAlester, both ship-masters in Tarbert, and Donald McAlester, a sailor in Gigha [Dobson, Migra- tion, pp. 53-4].

1771:  (8 April) Alexander McAlester, merchant in Campbeltown, is named in the Ser- vices of Heirs as heir to his father Ronald [Ranald] of Skerinish, Skye [Dobson, Migration, p. 52]. This is the future Alexander of Strathaird.

1774:   Alexander McAlester, merchant, named in the Admiralty Court records as coowner of the sloop Alexander of Campbeltown [Dobson, Migration, p. 52].

1775–1778: American War of Independence

1. At least 29 MacAlasdairs fight for independence from Britain, and many others fight for King George—including Lt. General Archibald MacAlester of the British Highland Division, who contributes to the British victory at the Battle of Bunker Hill [information courtesy of the Clan McAlister of America].

2. William Alexander of N.Y. (see 1762, #4) fights in Washington’s army in the American War, playing key roles in several important battles before retiring to Albany (N.Y.), where he spends the rest of his life trying to get his title recognised [CMS, pp. 44–5].

1776:  (21 March) death of Anne of the Ballycastle MacAllisters (Ulster); Ballycastle de- volves to her husband Col. Hugh Boyn [CMS, p. 48]; see c. 1558; 1646, #1.

1780:   Matthew MacAlester (later 1st laird of Rosshill and Glenbarr) captured after Battle of Conjeveram in India [CMS, p. 34]; he spends four years as a POW.

1784:   Matthew MacAlester rescued from captivity by the British unit of his brother Keith [CMS, p. 34].

1786:   Alexander MacAlister (eldest son of Ranald of Kingsburgh) purchases lands of Strathaird in Skye—this appears to be the first purchase of lands by a mem- ber of the Kingsburgh family. Alexander also inherits lands of Barr and Cour in Kin- tyre [CMS, pp. 33–34; CMS(2), p. 2; “News”, no. 14, p. 3; NSA, vol. 14, p. 305]. The Strathaird estate “consists of 16,000 acres, of which about 300 is arable, and the remainder green and hill pasture” [NSA, vol. 14, p. 309]. Mr. Macalister “prove[s] a most kind and indulgent proprietor", accordng to the parish minister [NSA, vol. 14, p. 305].

1789:   By this time “not a single acre [in South Knapdale] is . . . in the possession of the             [Tarbert] Macalasters”, who were once “by far the most considerable family” in the 

          parish [Stat. Acct.: S. Knapdale, p. 313]. In fact, "during the closing decades of the           eighteenth century, one group of landed gentry passe[s] away and [i]s replacd by             another. The probably reason for the wealth and vigour of the succeeding families             [i]s that they [a]re more in touch with the new enterprises of the times and . . . able

            to reap the profits of such fields of service and opportunity as India and Jamaica. .

            . . They undert[ake] extensive reconstruction, . . . promot[e] the building of new         roads, hel[p] modernise agricultural methods, ope[n] up the district and br[ing] it             more closely in touch with the outside world. With the development of this silent re

            revolution, the old, closely-knit society of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

            disintegrate[s]. . . . Without doubt, the new times [a]re better for the individual than

          the old, yet one is conscious of regret for a change which [i]s contemporary with             and in part akin to the break-up of the clan system" [Fraser, pp. 86-7]; see 1600s,#1.

1790:  (2 August) first US census lists the number of MacAlasdair heads of families in the following states: Maine (4), New Hampshire (15), Vermont (3), Massachusetts (1), Rhode Island (0), Connecticut (0), New York (5), Pennsylvania (33), Maryland (16), North Carolina (21), South Carolina (13); Virginia’s total is estimated at 21, using 1787 state totals for 78 counties [“McAlisters in the First U.S. Census”, p. 33].

1792:   1. Loup family leaves Kintyre

(28 March) Charles McAlester (later 12th of Loup) marries Janet Somerville, an heiress who brings him the estate of Kennox in Ayrshire. Thereafter, the seat of Clan Alasdair’s chiefs is at Kennox [Grant, p. 148; Report, p. 8; Keay, p. 643; Gregory, p. 418].

2. List of rentals of Argyll's properties in Kintyre shows "some names which appear in the 1505 rental, . . . and still flourish today. They include McAlister. . . ." [Stewart, "List", p. vi].

1794:   Johanna, daughter of Angus, 11th of Loup, marries John Macalister of Balinakill.

1795:   1. (5 Nov.) Loup lands relinquished

Trust disposition registered by Angus McAlester of Loup with his son Charles in favour of Alexander Nairne as trustee for Angus’s lands. This gives Nairne the right to sell any or all of the lands in order to pay Angus’s debts [Report, p. 5][7]; see 1798, 1803.

2. Robert McCallister, ancestor of the New Zealand McCallisters, born in Ireland [correspondence with Janet McCallister].

1796:  1. Lt. Col. Charles McAlester, 12th of Loup, succeeds his father, Angus [“Fortiter”, Jan. 1982, p. 4].

2. Glenbarr family established

Col. Matthew Macalister, sixth son of Ranald Macalister of Torrisdale & Skirrinish and Anne MacDonald of Kingsburgh, purchases the lands of Glenbarr from Col. Charles Campbell: He purchase[s] Rosshill and over the next twenty years also the lands of Barr and many adjacent farms to make up the Glenbarr estate [CMS, pp. 21–22].

1797:   birth of Charles McAlester, later 13th of Loup.

1798:  (2 Aug.) Loup property of Ardpatrick disponed to Walter Campbell of Shawfield “heritably and irredeemably” [Report, p. 5]

(28 Sept.) John Campbell of Stonefield seised of (i.e., acquires) the properties of Drum-naleck, Lackmore, Scotomiln and tiends (all in Kilcalmonell parish) on disposition by the trustees of Angus of Loup [Report, p. 5]

(Summer) Rebellion by the United Irishmen breaks out; after several months, the rising is defeated, but Michael Dwyer and a handful of comrades take to the Wicklow wilderness where they spent the next few months engaged in guerrilla warfare against royalist forces. Among them is Sam McAllister, a deserter from the Antrim militia.

1799:   1. (15 Feb.) Siege of Derrynamuck

           Dwyer's force, having taken shelter in three cottages in Wicklow, are surrounded by Royalist forces. Those hiding in two of the cottages quickly surrender or are killed. With three of his friends, Dwyer holds out in the third cottage. When two of the four are killed, a badly wounded Sam McAllister opens the door and walks out of the cottage, drawing the enemy's fire so that Dwyer can escape. McAllister dies instantly, but Dwyer is able to get away [Lawlor, 'Michael Dwyer', 1 August 2006].

          2. Statistical Account of Scotland report for the parish of Strath (Isle of Skye) names the parish’s two heritors as Lord Macdonald and Mr. Macalaster of Strathaird [vol. 16, p. 225].