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The Lordship of Lorne

British Isles Genealogy | Chapters From the Family Chest

     The district of Argyleshire, which is commonly known as 'Lorn' or 'Lorne,' occupies the northern portion of the county, from Oban and Dunstaffnage, at its western extremity, to the borders of Perthshire on the east. It is cut in two by the romantic and beautiful Loch Etive, and is separated on the west by a variety of narrow channels from the distrct of Morven. The district, in very ancient times, was traditionally possessed by the MacDougals, a family in those days almost as powerful as the MacDonalds, 'Lords of the Isles.' From the MacDougals it came into the royal house of Stuart; and it will be remembered that among the victories gained by Bruce in his eventful career was one over the then Lord of Lorne, in the pass of Awe.
     The broad lands of Lorne passed into the hands of the Campbells of Lochow, the direct ancestors of the present ducal house of Argyll, about four hundred years ago; and it is remarkable that they were acquired, not by force of arms, but by a fortunate marriage. Sir Bernard Burke tells us that Sir Colin Campbell, of Lochow, in recognition of the great additions which he had made to the estates of the house of Campbell, and to his achievements in war, acquired the name of 'More,' or the Great, and that from him the head of his descendants, down to the present day, is known among his Gaelic' tenantry 'and clansmen as 'MacCallum More.' He received the honor of knighthood in A.D. 1280, from the hands of Alexander III. of Scotland; and eleven years later was one of the nominees of Robert Bruce in his contest for the Scottish crown. This renowned and gallant chieftain was slain in a contest with his powerful neighbour, the Lord of Lome, at a place called the 'String of Cowal,' where an ugly obelisk of large size is erected over his grave. This event occasioned feuds for a series of years between the neighbouring Lairds of Lochow and Lorne, which were terminated at last by the marriage of Colin, second Lord Campbell of Lochow, and first Earl of Argyll, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland at the close of the fifteenth century, with Isabella Stuart, the eldest daughter and heiress of John, Laird of Lorne. In consequence of this union
Colin Campbell added to the arms of his ancestors the 'galley,' which still figures in the Campbell shield, and he assumed the additional title of 'Lord of Lorne.'
     The Marquisate of Lorne was created in 1701 in favour of Archibald, tenth earl and first Duke of Argyll, in recompense for his services to the new monarch in the troubled times immediately after the Revolution of 1688. It is thought probable in well-informed circles that in the course of a few months the broad lands of Lorne will probably be raised into a duchy, in favour of the present Marquis of Lorne, as there are objections to a son-in-law of Her Majesty holding a seat in the Lover House of Parliament;*1 and it is obvious that the creation of a new dukedom in favour of the bridegroom-elect will not even be open to the objection that it will make it a permanent addition to the House of Peers; for in the ordinary course of nature Lord Lorne must inherit also his father's title, and as we have a Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, a Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, and a Duke of Richmond, Lennox, and Gordon, so we may possibly have also a Duke of Argyll and Lorne.
     A slightly parallel example of a father and son both sitting in the Upper House under two separate creations, which, however, must ultimately be merged into each other, is to be found in the case of the eldest son of the late Duke of Leinster, who was raised to the peerage of the United Kingdom, as Baron Kildare in his father's life time.
     With the exception of the honors bestowed on her own children, and the somewhat anomalous and exceptional case of the Duchess of Inverness, her Majesty has but once exercised her right of creating a ducal title since her accession to the throne.*2 A second ducal title-that of Duke of Greenwhich-- was conferred in the last century on John, second Duke of Argyll; but it became extinct at the death of the grantee, the same nobleman to whom Pope alludes in the well-known lines:

'Argyll, the State's whole thunder born to wield, And shake alike the senate and the field!'

     *1 It is desirable to state that this was written on the eve of the marriage of the Marquis of Lorne with H.R.H. the Princess Louise in 1871.
     *2 Her Majesty, since that date, has rained the marquisate of Westminster to a dukedom.

Chapters From the Family Chests, 1887

Chapters From the Family Chest

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