June 2013

In this Issue:

 Clans of Scotland  Coming Events
 Pipes of the '45  June Celebrations
 Who Am I?  Society Officers
 Know the Clans  

Clans of Scotland

The word "clan" is Gaelic for children and the idea of the clans is the family and kinship.  Nature created the Clans.  Scotland is cut into various mountain chains divided by steep valleys.  By the 14th century these valleys were populated by families and individuals who had fled to the Highlands to avoid the invader—whether Roman, Norman, Saxon, or other.  They were cut-off from one another by the terrain as well as from the "outside" ruling party.  Their loyalty lay with the chief of the clan, whether family member or an individual who offered protection.  The chief did not own the land to garner his power.  Instead he had the support of his people.

Their power was greatest under the rule of the Stewart Kings.  In 1688 the balance of power turned against them.  They made their last stand in 1745 when they attempted to put another Stewart, Bonnie Prince Charles, back on the throne.  After that defeat, the English were determined to stamp out anything remotely Scottish in nature and in particular those items they felt were either weapons of war—which included the bagpipe—or would give them a commonality to draw them together.  Thus the tartan was also outlawed.  Only in the British military could a Scotsman wear his kilt or play a bagpipe. The Act of Proscription stated that after August 1, 1745, any person "offending" the ban shall be committed, shall suffer imprisonment, without bail, during the space of six months.  This offence could be based on the oral testimony of a single person.  A second offence carried the banishment to any of his Majesty's plantations "beyond the seas" for a period of seven years.  The English also took land without paying for it.  The Scots were frequently killed if they didn't move off the land fast enough or were found wearing a tartan—or simply gathering together.  It was not until 1782 that this ban was lifted.  But some aspects of Scottish culture were lost forever.

The Scots that could afford it—or could find a way—sailed to America, as well as Australia in an effort to make a living or jus to keep the family together.  Frequently this resulted in families being torn apart as some were not able to leave.  In their new homes they were able to play the pipes, wear their tartans and uphold their culture. 

The Pipes of the '45

When King George IV (1762-1850) visited Edinburgh in 1822 at the invitation of Sir Walter Scott, who laid on a magnificent reception, one of the most vivid and impressive spectacles that day was a distinguished piper named John MacGregor.

When his clan chief accompanied the Scottish Crown Jewels to Holyrood Palace from Edinburgh Castle,  John proudly played his pipes as he led the dignitaries of his clan through the streets of the capital.  This was just one achievement he could add to the piping career he had followed all his life which had included being personal piper in the Atholl Highlanders, which today is still the only permissible private army in Britain and the sole remaining body of the Jacobite  armies of the '45.  John also had the distinction of playing his pipes at Taymouth Castle at the foot of Loch Tay in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Victoria. 

In his maturity while residing in the little village of Druimcharry in the district of Fortingall near Aberfeldy, John found himself in distressing financial difficulties.  To help ease this problem he considered the possibility of selling his beloved set of bagpipes.  But on inspection it was discovered the eventful life the pipes had known.  On and around the chanter were attached little discs of engraved silver plate, stating that this instrument of two drones (bagpipes of this era had only two drones) had been owned and played by John's grandfather (also named John) in Bonnie Prince Charlie's army throughout the '45 campaign.

John MacGregor, John's grandfather had also lived in the hamlet of Fortingall and was known to be an ardent follower of the Prince.  His prowess on the pipes had attracted the attention of the Young Pretender, and John was honored to assume the post of personal piper to the Prince. John and the Prince got on very well and struck up a warm affection, the only disadvantage being that Bonnie Prince Charlie spoke little or none of Gaelic and John, like most Scots at that time, was very restricted with his English.  But the Prince condescended to learn a few necessary phrases like, "Sied suas do phiob, Iain!"  ("Blow up your pipes, John!")

The defeat at Culloden was the final encounter John MacGregor would have with the Prince, as the piper was badly wounded when a musket-ball hit his left leg just above the knee.  When the battle ended a vast number of Scots lay dead and dying and, although losing blood badly, John was able to crawl with his pipes to safety.  Some time later, he was lucky enough to cross paths with a surgeon who dressed his would and this probably saved his life.  The next few weeks were spent evading the enemy troops, but with a great deal of luck he managed to reach home still clutching beloved pipes.

He spent the remainder of his days in Fortingall, raised four sons and eight grandsons, all of whom he tutored to play the pipes.  And now the last surviving grandson, his namesake John, was contemplating putting the pipes up for sale.

On learning of the availability of these historic set of pipes many of the Lairds in the vicinity offered bids for them, but the best offer was the one put forward by the Duke of Atholl.  He pledged to top the highest price offered plus provide a half-yearly monetary allowance which made it possible for grandson John to live his remaining years in financial security.

So it was ironic that the pipes which had proclaimed the final challenge of the House of Stuart at that final battle should find their resting place in the custody of one of the nation's principal Jacobite households.

Who Am I ?

I was born in 1566.  My mother was a Queen.  I ruled in Scotland when I was only one year old, but did not gain full control of government until 1581.  In 1603 I became king of England and Scotland.  A new translation of the Bible was completed in 1611 and named for me.  Who am I?

(Answer at the end of the Newletter)


Know the Clans:
What's in a Name?
By Ron Dempsey, FSA Scot

Gordon of Huntly

Accounts vary as to the Gordons' origins.  One story has them starting in Normandy while others have them coming from Macedonia.  The most likely explanation is that the de Gourdons of Normandy came to Scotland during the reign of Malcolm Canmore, who actively encouraged foreigners to take up Scottish farming as part of his new feudal system. 

According to legend, the first Scottish de Gourdon was an adventurous knight who single-handedly slaughtered a wild boar.  Apparently Canmore was so impressed that he granted de Gourdon a charter of lands which the bold young man accepted.  On the gates of his property, he displayed the wild boar's head—perhaps as a warning that he was a force to be reckoned with.  To this day, the family crest is comprised of a buck's head protruding from a coronet.  Their motto is "Bydand" or "Remaning."

The family resided in the Borders for three centuries.  Eventually the head of the clan decided to move to Aberdeenshire, settling in a small village called Huntly.  The family's surname evolved to "deGordon."  By 1320, Sir Adam de Gordon was a favorite of King Robert the Bruce, who appointed him bearer if a bearer of a letter to the pope which was famously drawn up by the Scottish barons to declare the rights of their people against King Edward of England.  By the time of his death in 1333, Sir Adam owned several hundred acres in Aberdeenshire granted by the Scottish King in return for his services.

By 1376, Sir Adam's grandson, John, was a wealthy laird and by 1447, the Gordons owned so much land in and around Aberdeenshire that the head of the clan was known as "Cock o' the North."  By this time, the Gordons were well-known as a "warrior clan," for their involvement on the battlefields.  Throughout the centuries the Gordons had feuds with many other clans and among themselves as well.

Clan Gordon continues to flourish today and Huntly Castle, their ancestral home, still stands on the banks of the River Deveron.  After falling into disrepair, it was reclaimed by the Historic Scotland Trust.  Locally, it is known as "The Peel of Strathbogie," famous for its exquisite sculpture and quaint ground-floor prison.


Coming Events

June 1 Modesto CA Games
June 13 NO Monthly Meeting in June !
June 14 Flag Day - fly your flag
June 15-16 Santa Cruz Cty Games, Watsonville CA
June 22 San Diego CA - Vista CA
July 6-7 Monterey CA Games
July 20-21 Flagstaff Gemes

SOCIETY MEETING Regular membership meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ. Beginning at 7 pm. Come join us or log on to www.arizonascots.com.

June Celebrations
If you would like your special date recognized in our monthly newsletter, we need to hear from you. Please let us know your correct birthday and anniversary information by email to anjrams@cox.net and it will be included in our Celebration list.

June 5 Gordon & Dee McClimans - Anniversary
June 6 Genie Smith- Birthday
June 10 Alan & Mary Jo Ramsdell - Annivesary
June 12 Don & Bobby Hoeck - Anniversary

Who Am I ?

King James VI of Scotland—King James I of England

Caledonian Society Officers
President: Mark Clark
Past President: (2010 – 2012) Jean Latimer
1st Vice President, & Membership Chair Don Finch
Secretary: Thom Von Hapsburg
Treasurer: David McBee
Games Chair
Jason Temple
Trustee 1: Mark Pelletier

Newsletter Editor:

Jo Ramsdell