Born October 5, 1834. Died June 2, 1862. Aged 28.
By James McIndoe.
Many persons do not like to go near a graveyard; some do not like even to hear a churchyard mentioned. Many others feel an especial interest in that quiet place — an interest which is quite unconnected with any personal associations with it. A great deal depends upon habit; and a great deal turns, too, on whether the churchyard which we know best is a locked up, deserted, neglected place, all grown over with nettles, or a spot not too much retired, open to all passers-by, with trimly-mown grass and neat, gravelled paths. I do not sympathise with the taste which converts a burying place into a flower garden or a fashionable lounge for thoughtless people. Let it be the "country churchyard," only with some appearance of being remembered and cared for.
So wrote an Episcopalian parson some 30 years ago; and possibly be interpreted the feelings rightly of very many in those days by the first sentence quoted, for I well remember in my boyish years I dreaded passing the churchyard, particularly after dark; it being so much associated with ghostly stories and resurrectionist rumours as to raise a feeling of doubt and fear lest after darkness had gathered in the youthful frame might be spirited away by ethereal beings or the body taken possession of by earthly prowlers and disposed of for surgical anatomical operations. That such a feeling does not prevail among colonials is evidenced from the numbers who flock to the cemeteries on Sundays and holidays, making them regular resorts. This change of sentiment or feeling may be attributable to the fact that the graveyard is no longer associated with the church or kirk, being with us an independent institution. This is said without any irreverence, simply on the ground that it is difficult to trace any natural connection or affinity between the church and the yard, although both are requisite, the yard indespensably so, under existing conditions of sepulture.
Some months ago, in walking through the Church of England portion of the Southern Cemetery, my attention was attracted by a plain neat stone with a very short and appropriate inscription thereon, the title of the individual whose memory is thereby commemorated being that at the head of this notice. The stone can be seen about the centre of the ground, close to the hedge which divides what is called the general cemetery from the other. The name "Glengarry" calls up many historic associations, weaving themselves through years of strife and turmoil, war, and pillage, by which the Highlanders of Scotland were so much distinguished and desolated, and which has caused the more prominent participants therein to be looked on by many as deserving of hero-worship. The feeling is, however, gradually fading out, and in a few years hence it very likely will be considered a piece of sentimentality that so many sacrificed life and property, both their own and that appertaining to others, for very paltry reasons.
The Scottish Highlanders were men subject to strange hallucinations. They had their prophets and seers, dreamers of dreams and seers of visions, who formulated notions which were quickly and widely spread and received as gospel truths. That the Glengarry family were considerably influenced by this legendary lore, in common with other clans, will be seen in the course of my narrative.
Desirous of knowing something of this Glengarry now silent in this cemetery of ours, so far distant from the home of his illustrious ancestors, I wrote to a member of the family known to me many years ago, and Miss Macdonell has sent me a considerable amount of interesting information. This venerable lady, now over 80 years of age, has resided in Rothesay for very many years, and has devoted, and still devotes, a large portion of her time and her ability to works of charity and philanthropy, making the education of the youth of the town her peculiar case, and by her position as a member of the school board, which she has held since this national system was established a dozen years ago, she has been enabled to carry out several very practical improvements.
Before entering on details in connection with the scion of the family who now mixes with kindred earth in our southern cemetery, so far-away from the land of mountain and flood, the land of his sires, where their remembrance is encircled with a halo of renown, it will be interesting to record some few facts regarding these sires, and some others closely allied to them.
The materials are not at present available, nor does time at present permit of going far back and minutely describing the modes of life and action of these brave, and some would, judging from isolated exaggerated tales, call them wild, Highlanders, so we must content ourselves with the limits of the present century, during which it may be said that three generations of the family have come and gone, leaving behind a very faint trace indeed of the powerful Clan which took such a conspicuous part in the exciting scenes which have so distinguished the Highlands of Scotland, and which can be found recorded in many books, both of history and romance, of which Sir Walter Scott and Miss Porter in her Scottish Chiefs can be taken as reliable instances.
This notice will consequently begin with the grandsire of him whose gravestone suggested its writing. Reminiscences of Glengarry, the last of the Chieftains, are still common in the Highlands, and indeed through the whole of Scotland. One correspondent wrote to Miss Macdonell:
I remember your father coming on me when fishing in the Garry (put of his estate in Perthshire). I felt afraid that he might be angry, but he soon put me at my ease. He asked a while of my rod to try his luck. He fought a large trout, and with a kindly smile bade me take it home for my supper, adding, "Tell your mother Glengarry sent it."
A very amusing incident is related of Glengarry, who was conspicuous at the coronation of George IV. Galt, the novelist, records it after this style:
The first part of the banquet being ended, the sound of an encouraging trumpet was heard, and in came the champion on horseback in warlike apparel of polished armour, having on his right hand the Duke of Wellington and on his left the deputy of the Earl Mareschal. But it does not become my private pen to expatiate on such high concerns of chivalry, and I was besides just tormented the whole time by Mrs Pringle speering the meaning of everything and demonstrating her surprise that the Duke of Wellington should bemean himself to act such a play-actor's part. Really it is a great vexation to have to do with either men or women of such unicorn minds as Mrs Pringle's where there is anything of a complexity of sense, as there is in that type and image of the old contentious times of the monarchy, showing the resurrection of a champion in a coat of mail challenging to single combat.
In this juncture of the play we were put to a dreadful amazement by a lady of an Irish stock, as we heard, taking it into her head to be most awfully terrified at the sight of a Highland gentleman in his kilts and holding his pistol in his hand. The gentleman was Glengarry, than whom, as is well known, there is not nowadays a chieftian of a more truly Highland spirit. Indeed, it may almost be said of him as I said of Brutus, the ancient Roman, that he is one of the last of the cheftains, none caring more for the hardy mountain race or encouraging by his example the love of hill and heather. Well, what does the terrified madam do but set up a plastic to disarm Glengarry, thinking that he was going to shoot the King and put to death all the blood royal of the Guelph family, making a clean job of it for the bringing in again of the Stuarts. Then she called to her a Knight of the Bath and a young man of slender nature, one of the servitors, and bade them arrest Glengarry. It was well for them that the Macdonell knew something of Courts and the dues of pedigrees and bridled himself at this noble show; but it was just a picture and a contrast to be kept in remembrance to see the proud and bold son of the mountain — the noble that a king cannot make, for it's past the monarch's power to bestow the honour of a chieftainship even upon the Duke of Wellington, as true Highlanders know — and I say it was a show to see him, the lion of the rock, submitting himself calmly as a lamb to these "silken sons of little men," and the only tot of treason proving to be only a lady's hysterics.
Thus far the novelist's description of the incident. The mighty London Times likewise took notice of it, describing the affair as a "mysterious circumstance," only adding that when the news reached Edinburgh everyone knew it could only refer to Glengarry; but a Highlander on hearing that the offending pistol had been found unprimed exclaimed: "By Got! It couldna be Glengarry, for she's aye loaded!"
Glengarry himself sent a letter to the London Times detailing the circumstance, as follows: —
Sir, — The alarm expressed by a lady on seeing me in Westminster Hall on the day of his Majesty's coronation and the publicity which the lady thought fit to give to that expression of alarm by means of your paper I should have treated with the indifference due to such mock heroics in one of the fair sex but that it has been copied into other papers, with comments and additions which reflect both on my conduct and the Highland character. I trust therefore to your sense of justice for giving to the public the real history of the "mysterious circumstance," as it is termed. I had the honour of a royal duke's ticket for my daughter and myself to see his Majesty crowned, and I dressed on that magnificent and solemn occasion in the full costume of a Highland chief, including of course a brace of pistols. I had travelled about six hundred miles for that purpose; and in that very dress, with both pistols mounted, I had the honour to kiss the sovereign's hand at the levee of Wednesday last, the 25th inst. Finding one of our seats in the hall occupied by a lady on our return to the lower gallery (whence I had led my daughter down for refreshments) I, upon replacing her in her former situation, stepped two or three rows further back, and was thus deprived of a view of the mounted noblemen by the anxiety of the ladies, which induced them to stand up as the horsemen entered, whereupon I moved nearer the upper end of the gallery, and thereby gained a full view of his Majesty and the royal dukes on his right hand. I had been standing in that position for some time, with one of the pilasters in the fold of my right arm and my breast pistol in that hand, pointing down to the seat floor on which I stood when the champion entered, by which means I hung my body forward in anything but "seemingly if as going to present it" — in fact, I had taken it into my hand in order to relieve my chest from the pressure of its weight, after having worn it slung till then from 4 o'clock. It was at this instant that a lady within a short distance exclaimed, " Oh, Lord! oh, Lord! there is a gentleman with a pistol." To which I answered, "The pistol will do you no harm, madame." But a second time she cried, "Oh, Lord! oh, Lord! there is a gentleman with a pistol." This last I answered her by assuring her the pistol was not loaded, but that I would instantly retire to my place since it seemed to give her uneasiness; and I was accordingly preparing to do so when accosted by a young knight errant and closely followed by two men, likewise in plain clothes, one of whom — the first who began to mob me (for it merits no other term) — laid his hand on my pistol, still grasped under a loose glove in my right hand, and, observing the number to increase on his side, he asked me to deliver him the pistol.
Need I say that as a Highland chief I refused his demand with contempt. The second gentleman then urged his friend's suit, but was equally unsuccessful. A knight of the Grand Cross was then introduced with all due honour by the name of Sir Charles into this pretty contention; and he also desired me to give up the pistol to that gentleman, which I flatly refused, but added that, understanding him by his dress, &c., to be Knight of the Grand Cross, he might have it if he chose, with all its responsibility, for, as I had already said, it was not loaded, and pistols were a part of my national garb in full dress. Again Sir Charles desired me to "give it that gentleman." But my answer was, "No, Sir Charles. You, as a soldier, may have it, as the honour of an officer and a man of family will be safe in your hands, but positively no other shall; so take it or leave it, as you please."
Sir Charles, after the conversation referred to, took that pistol, the other being always worn by me in its place, and the Knight Grand Cross having just declined my turning up the pan to show there was no powder in it, I told him that I had a daughter under my protection in the hall, and consequently proceeded in that direction on his signifying a wish that I should retire, adding, "I have worn this dress at several continental Courts, and it was never insulted before."
I begged the honour of his card (which he had not upon him), at the same time giving him my name and the hotel where I lodged, expressing in expectation to see him. Sir Charles at this time begged that I would move forward, and I begged of him to proceed in that direction, and that I would follow. This he did a short way, and then halting, requested that would walk first. I said I had no objection if he followed. However, he and the squire remained a little behind, probably to examine the pistol I had lent Sir Charles, which the latter shortly came up with and restored. Meantime Sir Charles must recollect that I spoke again to him, and that I mentioned the name of a near connection of mine, well known in command of the Coldstream Guards. As neither of these gentlemen have called on me since, I presume that they are I satisfied that the blunder was not upon my side, and that my conduct would bear itself through. The conclusion of the day went off very pleasantly, and when satiated therewith my daughter and I drove off amidst many marks of civility and condescension even from strangers as well as from our own countrymen and acquaintances even in the highest ranks.
This, Sir, is the whole story of the absurd and ridiculous alarm. Pistols are as essential to the Highland courtier's dress as a sword to the Englishman's, and those used by me on such occasions are as unstained by me with powder as any courtier's sword with blood.
With respect to the wild phantasy which haunted Lady A.'s brain of danger to his Majesty, I may be permitted to say that George IV has not in his dominions more faithful subjects than the Highlanders, and that not an individual witnessed his Majesty's coronation who would more cheerfully and ardently shed his heart's blood for him than your humble servant, Ard-Flath Siol-Chuin Mac Mhic-Alastair, — which may be Anglicised "Colonel Ronaldson Macdonell of Glengarry and Clanronald."
Glengarry bore no ill-will or grudge for the insults offered to his national garb, and when George IV visited Edinburgh the chief took a prominent part in the festivities of welcome, and was honoured by special marks of royal favour. One instance may be given, as communicated by an eye-witness to the chief's daughter : — There were with your father on the occasion of George III's visit to Edinburgh about 12 gentlemen who acted as officers, and these were headed by his own brother, of Waterloo fame. The Highlanders were remarkable as tall, stalwart, handsome men, fit for any emergency, and the whole retinue was much admired. When the King landed and was seated in his carriage Glengarry burst through all opposition and placed himself alongside, and bade the King welcome to Scotland. The King rose, and cordially thanked him. At a banquet given in honour of the King your father made an animated speech, and told the King that he had no soldiers more loyal and true than the Highlanders, who at all times might be trusted w give a good account of their enemies.
The King was so delighted with the display of sturdy clansmen that he subsequently appeared among them in full Highland costume. In addition to the 12 chieftains there was a considerable gathering of the clans in Edinburgh, and as at this date — August 1823 — it was illegal for so many to assemble, to get over the difficulty and legalise the meeting they were all sworn in to act as guards, to the Lord High Constable and Knight Mareschal, and nothing could be more orderly than the conduct of those military strangers. Sir Walter Scot by universal consent acted as adjutant-general to these gallant mounttaineers, consisting of (1) about 50 Breadalbane men; (2) Celtic Society, under the Duke of Argyle; (3) Strathfillan Society, under Stewart of Ardvoirlich and Graham of Airth; (4) Clan Gregor; (5) Glengarry's men; (6) 60 men from Dunrobin; (7) about 30 Drummonds, sent by Lady Guydyr.
Glengarry's family consisted of seven sons and seven daughters, of whom six boys died under three years of age, only one son and six daughters attaining mature years. His own death was rather a melancholy one, occurring in 1828. The steamer in which he was journeying to Edinburgh was wrecked near Oorpach, on one of the lochs on the Caledonian Canal. All the passengers were landed safely, but Glengarry got injured on the head among the rocks, and during the night brain fever set in, which ended fatally in a few hours. Sir Walter Scott wrote a lament for him, which has been in the possession of the family and unpublished until quite recently, and as it may prove interesting to many readers we reprint here in full : —
GLENGARRY'S DEATH SONG.
Land of the Gael, thy glory has flown! For the star of the north from its orbit is thrown!
Dark, dark is thy sorrow and hopeless thy pain, For no star e'er shall beam with its lustre again.
Glengarry, Glengarry is gone evermore ; Glengarry, Glengarry we'll ever deplore.
O tell of the warrior who never did yield! O tell of the chief who was falchion and shield!
Oh, think of the patriot most ardent and kind! Then sigh for Glengarry, in whom all were joined.
The chieftains may gather— the combatants call; One champion is absent— that champion was all;
The bright eye of genius and valour may flame, But who now shall light it to honour and fame.
See the light bark, how toss'd! she's wrecked on the wave; See dauntless Glengarry on the verge of the grave!
See his leap — see that gash, and that eye now so dim And thy heart must be steel'd if it bleed not for him.
Arise thou young branch of so noble a stem, Obscurity marks not the work of a gem;
O hear the last wish of thy father for thee, "Be all to thy country Glengarry should be."
Why sounds the loud pibroch? why rolls the death bell? Why crowd our bold clansmen to Garry's green vale?
'Tis to mourn for their chief— for Glengarry the brave, 'Tis to tell that a hero is laid in his grave.
Oh! heard ye that anthem ?— slow, pealing so high! The shades of the valiant are come from the sky,
And the genii of Galdoch are first in the throng — O list to the theme of their aerial song.
It's "Welcome Glengarry, thy clansmen's fast friend," It's "Welcome to joys that shall ne'er have an end —
The halls of great Odin are open to thee, O welcome Glengarry, the gallant and free."
|"Glengarry the brave"|
Glengarry had only one brother of whom we have record, Sir James Macdonell, who has been already mentioned. He held a commission in the army and gained some renown at the battle of Maida, and Sir Walter Scott, to whom Glengarry had presented a staghound, named the dog Maida in commemoration of the warrior brother and the celebrated battle; and on the death of the hound in 1824 Sir Walter had the following couplet he had himself composed engraven in stone and placed over the dog's burial place:
Beneath the sculptured form which late you bore, sleep soundly, Maida, at your master's door.
Sir James was also famous for his achievement at the defence of Hougomont, where, assisted only by a sergeant of the Guards, he slew or drove back six French Grenadiers who had forced their way into the courtyard. Sir James left no family.
Glengarry's only son does not appear to have attained any celebrity; and although I could tell a few personal incidents in which I participated with him and reputedly the last of the descendants of Royal Charlie, possibly the best record which can be given is to quote Miss Macdonell's own words regarding her brother and nephews in the letter sent the writer of this sketch :—
The Glengarry who died in New Zealand was my only brother's eldest son, and the simple headstone was ordered by his two sisters, both of whom are now dead, as also is his younger brother Charles, who, although married, left no family; so that of three sons and three daughters at the time of my brother's death, the only descendant now is the only child of his youngest daughter, John Alister Cunningham, of Balgownie, in Fifeshire — or more properly in Perthshire.
The whole of Glengarry and part of Knoidart were sold by my brother after the birth of his son, and the last part of Knoidart was sold before this young man's death. So truly he was the last. (Charles was born after the first part of the estate was sold)
The ruins of the old castle, &c., being retained are now the property of my grandnephew, Mr Cunningham, thus so far fulfilling part of some old Highland predictions: 1. That the whole of Glengarry and Knoidart would pass out of the family, and would be recovered by one of the family, who would be the son of a black woman. It was, and still is, expected that this will be the descandant; of one of our ancestors who has been lost sight of for some generations. 2. That of the three last Glengarrys one was to be drowned, another to be poisoned, and another to die alone in a strange land, which, poor fellow, has been his lot. I am not sure in what turn these were to come, but my brother's second son was drowned in England, his oldest died in a strange land, and it is possible that improper food or medicine may have acted as poison to his youngest, who died at sea. None of us were related to the Forbes of Culloden. My mother was a daughter of Sir William Forbes, Baronet of Pitsligo, a well-known banking family of Edinburgh.
It is not probable much more can be said or written regarding this celebrated family, as although I should willingly see the black woman descendant redeem the inheritance, my faith in prophecy, from whatever source, is not so elastic as to stretch sufficiently to embrace the improbable or the wonderful. But it is said that everything comes to him who waits — always provided he can wait long enough.
We can only supplement the history by a few facts regarding "the last of the Glengarrys," gathered from one who was closely associated with him here, and has kindly furnished the particulars. It was towards the end of the "fifties" that Glengarry arrived in New Zealand. For some time previously he had wandered in Canada, where very many of his clansmen — expatriated by oppression in their native land — had found a shelter, and which they have helped to build up to a state of importance second to none in the British possessions. There, however, he secured no rest. Class distinctions were extinguished, so that the chief and bis adherents stood on the same level. The old spirit of chieftainship still prevailed with Glengarry, so migrating, he landed in New Zealand and took up the run, in Canterbury known as Culverden. Was "Culloden" associated therewith? Who knows? In this tenure of land in the colony Glengarry had associated with him his younger brother Charles. The old Highland spirit of unrest was paramount, and discontent was the consequence. Family discord is nowadays far worse than tribal; it is more concentrated, and on that account far more bitter and severe. At Culverden matters did not go on well. The manager, Mr Dodds, had worse than a bad job on hand — two brothers of a wild and fiery nature could neither be subdued nor brought into fraternal amity. Like the old Scriptural kings, David and Solomon, not to mention their acknowledged head and chief, "Charles Stuart, known as the Pretender," they loved women and wine; and considering their traditions and the surroundings of their youth, who can blame them?
Glengarry came to Otago about the end of 1861, and here in the following year he was doomed to end bis days. Peacefully slumbering in that allotment in the cemetery, it can be said of him it is his own; be is now the sole possessor of that square plot, instead of lording over a large heritage of which he could carry nothing with him. The fate of his brother Charles is up to now enveloped in obscurity.
The last of the Glengarrys was not to be forgotten. Not a countryman, but a brother of the Celtic race was inspired to write. And of his poetic effusion Mics Macdonell thus writes :— Certainly the cutting you sent me from the correspondent in London to one of your evening papers is most untruthful. Selfishness did not belong to my father nor to my brother either. At the statement I could smile without any feeling of indignation. The poem you sent me I am sending round to several of my friends. I think parts of it are very fine. Nolan is an Irish name, but the poet must be half full of Highland blood. Has he written or printed much of such poetry? I should like to know and have copies. Mr Nolan is a contributor to your columns, so that his name is familiar to your readers. The note appended to the poem read as follows:— In an obscure corner of the Church of England portion of the Southern Cemetery, Dunedin, are interred the remains of the last in a direct line of the Glengarry chiefs. Above his grave has been erected by some kindly hand a simple marble cross bearing the following inscription :—
GLENGARRY, . Born 8th October 1834. Died 2nd June 1882. Aged 28. Surely, surely the memory of the last of the Glengarrys, were it only for the glorious achievements of his ancestors, deserves more
The Otago Witness story ends there but I have a copy of the poem referred to in a volume titles "Poems and Sketches, Grave and Humorous" by "A New Zealander," published in London. The poem is as follows:
For the last Glengarry goodly Is this monumental pile;
Yet the world cynically rudely Whispers, "Was it worth the while?"
At the question straight comes o'er me The entrancement of the seer;
And a high scene opes before me, And the pibroch fills my ear.
And the tartan tints that vary Mark the badge of many a clan;
But the bonnets of Glengarry I see foremost in the van,
When the wonted mode of battle All but makes the spirit shout
With the slogan and the rattle, And the onset and the rout.
Thus my spirit, like the phoenix Rising from its funeral pile
Gives the answer to the cynic's Query "Was it worth the while?"
This is not a man we honour Who might have his share of blame;
But in him we prize the owner Of a proud historic name.
This the name that has been reckoned Daring emblem of the Gael,
That in fight was never second At the signal to assail.
That was it that at Culloden Was as wonted,to the fore,
When Drumossie's Muir was sodden With the gallant clansman's gore.
That it was that won fresh splendour In Houg'mont's terrific fight,
Whose heroical defender Foiled Napoleon's utmost might.
So when asked to name the proudest Of that storied roll of fame,
Wellington ascribed the loudest Tribute to Glengarry's name.
Vain the halo of such story Of a proud and martial race,
To revive its fading glory, Or arrest grim Ruin's pace.
Seeking 'mid New zealand's prairies Fortune's favour to reclaim,
There the last of the Glengarries Found a grave without a name;
In his fallen fortunes slighted, Fit type of that gallant race
Whose brave deeds their land requited With like exile and disgrace.
Men of stature and of terror, As they owned who felt their might;
And when won from ways of error Bulwarks for their country's right.
Yet they who in every battle Bore so well their country's cause
Were forced to give place to cattle By that country's selfish laws.
The "New Zealander" was Dugald Ferguson (1833-1920) of Dunedin and Tapanui.
By Robert Gohdon Hacdonald, M.D.,
L.R.c.P.E., &c, &c.
I have compiled the following statement for the information of those interested in the above historic name from McKenzie's "History of the MacDonalds" and from letters recently received from friends and acquaintances of Alexander's in New Zealand.
The exact origin of the founder of the Macdonald clan — Somerled, Lord of the Isles and Prince of Argyle — is somewhat uncertain. He may hare been of Danish or Norwegian origin, and he may have been of Irish extraction. In any case he married Ragnhildis, daughter of Godred the Black, King of Man and the Isles, who reigned in the eleventh century. By this marriage and the subsequent constant intermixture of Danish and Norwegian blood his descendants are as much Saxon as they are Celtic.
In the time of Reginald or Ranald, eighth chief of the race of Somerled, one of his sons secured the lands of Glengarry, and so became the progenitor of this branch of the clan. The first mention of the name "Macdonell" occurs in this time of Donald Macdonald, eighth of Glengarry. It is mentioned in a patent of nobility granted to the grandson and successor of Donald Mac Angus on the 20th December 1660, and the title conferred was Lord Macdonell and Arros. This man in 1660 signed his name to two documents still in existence — once as Angus Macdonald, and again as Macdonell. Why he changed the "Donald" to Donell is a matter of conjecture, as no authentic information is given by McKenzie. It may here be mentioned that the early Scots and Saxons pronounced the name "Donwald," and Shakespeare, in "Macbeth," writes it "Macdonwalds."
The man whose memory we wish to perpetuate was Alexander, or Alastair Ranaldson Macdonell, eldest son of Aeneas Ranaldson Macdonell, Sixteenth of Glengarry, by Josephine Bennett, grand-niece of the Bishop of Cloyne.
Alexander was therefore Seventeenth of Glengarry, and he died unmarried in Dunedin on June 2, 1862, at the early age of 28 years. His grave is in an obscure corner of the Southern Cemetery, and over it we wish to raise a suitable memorial.
He was succeeded in the title by his younger brother Charles, who was thus Eighteenth of Glengarry. Charles died at sea on his way Home from New Zealand in June 1868, and with him disappeared for ever the last of the Glengarrys in the direct line. Some of his relatives in the old world think there is some mystery about the fate of Charles; but there need be none, as there is in Dunedin one eyewitness at least who saw his body committed to the deep, and watched over him in his last hours. He was married, but left no issue, so that the title is now held by the family of Scotus, relatives of the original holders. The female relatives of the direct line refuse to acknowledge the new heir, believing that an heir is to come from the family of Major Charles Mandonell, the younger son of John, Twelfth of Glengarry, who died in America in 1762. The Lyon King of Arms, however, has decided in favour of the Scotus family, and so the present holder of this title is Aeneas Ranaldson Macdonell, of Cheltenham, England,
Let us now return to the family, of the man in whom we are interested. His father, as already stated, was Aeneas, Sixteenth of Glengarry, and two of the latter's sisters, though well past the allotted span of life, are still alive and reside in Rothesay, Scotland. Mr James McIndoe, of Dunedin, had been in communication with Miss Macdonell last year, and I have read her letter to him in reference to some family affairs and the grave of Alexander. This same lady wrote a most interesting article in "Blackwood's Magazine" last year, descriptive of "A Highland Chief and His Family" of the olden times. Several persons in Dunedin hailing from Rothesay have informed me they knew the Misses Macdonell in days gone by as the "Glengarrys."
The family of Aeneas consisted of three sons and three daughters. The sons were Alexander, Aeneas Robert, and Charles, and the daughters were Marsali, Eliza, and Rebecca. Alexander and Charles we already know. Aeneas Robert, who was a distinguished naval student, was drowned in the Medway in 1855. He was quite a young man, and died unmarried. Of the daughters, Marsali married Hector Frederick McLean, of Edinburgh, in 1869, with no issue. Eliza died unmarried in 1857. Rebecca married Captain John Cunninghame, of Balgownie, in 1866, with issue a son and daughter. I understand the whole of Aeneas' family are now dead.
Young Mr Alastair Cunninghame of Balgownie is now the lineal representative of the old family, and owns Craggan-an-fhithich, or the Ravens Rock - the knoll upon which stands the ruins of Glengarry Castle, the ancient burying ground of the family, and a few heirlooms. This is all that now remains of the extensive dominions of the once important Glengarry family. May we not well exclaim, "Sic volvere fates!"
In McKenzie's history I see it stated that our friend's father sold the estates, which were heavily mortgaged, and emigrated with his family to Australia. In this case they must have returned to Scotland, for I am informed that Alexander and one of his sisters arrived in the colony from England in 1857, and that Charles arrived some years after. A lady from Picton writes me saying that she was a fellow passenger with Alexander and his sister in the barque Oriental, Captain Macey, which arrived at Nelson in 1857. In this case the sister must have returned to Scotland. My correspondent mentions the following names as being fellow passengers. viz.:—Captain and Mrs Baillie, Mr and Mrs Muntz, Mr Stapleton, Mr Greensill (the present Mayor of Picton), and Mrs J. W. Baillie. She further mentions that Alexander told them he was Glengarry and that sometimes he wore three eagle's feathers in his cap as the distinctive badge of his chiefship.
A gentleman from Christchurch writes me saying that he knew Charles, but not Alexander. Charles, he says, came out to the colony on the death of Alexander; that, in fact, he was a naval cadet, and came to the colony to take possession of hie brother's effects. Mr James McIndoe, in an excellent and graphic sketch of the family which recently appeared in the Otago Witness, gives a somewhat different account of the movements of the brothers; but their life and movements in the colony are not necessarily of much importance in thin statement. Alexander shortly after his arrival became possessed of the Culverden sheep run in Canterbury. How he succeeded in his new venture I am unable to say, nor do any of my correspondents offer any information; but it is pretty certain he died a comparatively poor man. At the time of his death he was on a visit to Dunedin, and died, after a short illness, from rheumatic fever.
Amongst the many persons, male and female, who have written me since a paragraph regarding him appeared in the Daily Times (and all of whom I take this opportunity of thanking) is a gentleman from Nokomai, who tells the following story :—On one occasion Alexander rode into Christchurch for a doctor to attend upon his shepherd's wife, who was in desperate straits on an interesting occasion. On the return journey they had to cross a river in full flood. Arriving on its banks the doctor, after viewing the situation, positively declined to face the waters. Glengarry appealed to him to risk it for the sake of the mother and child on the other side; but, no, life was too sweet to throw it recklessly into that boiling flood. Glengarry grasping the situation, pulled a revolver out of his pocket, and seizing the doctor's rein, shouted in commanding tones, follow me, or die! They swam the river in safety, and in due time were rewarded with the arrival of twins. The doctor, I suppose, did not know that he had to deal with a man in whose veins flowed the blood of generations of fearless warriors.
The family were closely related to Sir William Forbes, Bart., of Pitsligo and Fettercairn, immortalised in song as "The Bob of Fettercairn." Two sons of this family were living with Alexander in Canterbury. I understand that some members of the Forbes family are still in New Zealand, and that a baronet of that name resides in the north of this island.
Another relative of the family resided in Dunedin for several years, but of late has taken up his abode in Auckland. He informs me that he it was who placed the small marble cross with the simple inscription over Glengarry's grave, at the request of his sister, Mrs Cunninghame, of Balgownie. I also hear that there are several relatives of the family in Australia; and in McKenzie'e History I see that their numbers are legion in England, Scotland, and America. It is as well to put all this on record, as questions regarding so distinguished a family are certain to arise from time to time, whilst books and letters dealing with them are only be in the possession of a very few persons. To the many this short sketch will be as ancient history, to the thoughtful it illustrates the painful vicissitudes of life, and to the few a source of real regret. Sic transit gloria mundi.
The days of feudalism are over, and sentiment is said to be gradually dying. Perhaps it is all the better the former has disappearred. Sentiment, however, in some breasts will last till the crack of doom. Though we curb it and hide it under all manner of disguises, Phoenix-like it arises from its ashes.
New Zealand is poor indeed in the sentiment of her sons and daughters. Possibly her associations and requirements have not as yet developed that excellent human quality. Scotia's children, however, have always a warm corner in their breasts for the land of their birth and her historic associations. Though Glengarry is nothing but a name to us of to-day, that name crowds the memory with the patriotic deeds of other days. Think of the filial bond between chief and vassal; of the struggle of opposing warriors; of the efforts to hold hearth and home against crushing odds; of the tender associations of youth and sex; of life, liberty, and religion. And after doing so, where is the heart so callous and dead but will have a pang of regret at the fate of Glengarry, who lies almost unknown and uncared for in the cold shades of a foreign land. Arise, sons of Scotia! and let not your fair fame for home and country be thus crushed by mock patriotism and pride be-dulled sentiment! Glengarry, be his faults what they may, was your countryman. His ancestors were famed in the song and story of our country; They fought its battles and drained their blood to transmit to you that glorious freedom and world-wide empire you now possess. Let it not be said, then, that in the days of his adversity, and when lying in an almost forgotten grave, his countrymen would not help him in life nor remember him in death. Were you in need of a leader, he would be the foremost in the fray. Were you in need of comfort, he would be the first to utter that soothing word. Buckle on, therefore, that ancient spirit of national pride and rescue from obscurity the grave of Glengarry.
Land of the Gael, thy glory has flown, For the star of the north from its orbit is thrown;
Dark, dark, is thy sorrow, and hopeless thy pain, For no star ere shall beam with its lustre again.
Glengarry, Glengarry, is gone evermore; Glengarry, Glengarry, we'll ever deplore. -Otago Daily Times, 12/12/1896.
THE GAELIC SOCIETY
Mr D. McPherson, referring to a paragraph respecting one o£ the chiefs of Glengarry supposed to be interred in the Dunedin cemetery, said it would be a graceful act on the part of the society to further the object contemplated — viz., of erecting a memorial stone over his last resting place, — as well as looking after the graves of other Highlanders who may be resting in God's acre in this part of the world, and he concluded by reading a few original verses in English and Gaelic embodying the sentiments expressed in his speech.
Mr R. Rae spoke a few well-chosen words admonishing the society to continue the keeping up of their language and their Celtic traditions, and concluded by singing a Scotch song. -Otago Witness, 12/12/1896.
|The current gravestone the the 17th of Glengarry, depicting the celtic cross which was in bad condition and which it replaced.|