[Clan Crest]

Clan MacLea - Livingstone

The Official Home of the Clan McLea (The ancient historical name of the Livingstones)

The Lion Rampant




The Celtic Review April 15 1909, pp 356-375

The island of Lismore is situated in the district of Lorne and the sheriffdom of Argyle. It lies in the Linn of Lorne opposite Oban, trending along towards Appin. Including the islet of Musdal, which is separated from the main island by a shallow strait-a few feet deep, and a few yards wide at low water - Lismore is ten and one -tenth miles in length and averages about one mile in breadth.

The geological formation of Lismore is limestone with the exception of two beds of whin and several dykes of trap.

The whin is at Cilleandrais and Portcharrain, two contiguous farms, and the traps cross the island at nearly equal intervals along its length. These traps merge under the sea at Lismore and again emerge on the two opposite coasts.

Probably, however, the most interesting and instructive geological feature of Lismore is the ancient sea-margin by which it is surrounded. This margin is of irregular width, from one to a hundred yards, and in one, place is one thousand yards wide. It is of uniform level throughout though rough and rocky on the surface. A sea escarpment rises fifty feet above this terrace and is considerably honeycombed - in some places deeply indented - by the action of the sea. Some of the deeper indentations penetrate the rock to unknown distances forming deep caves, one of which is alleged to pierce the island right through. This, however, can only be conjecture.

A story is told of a piper and his dog having entered this cave - Uamb-Chraidh-at Bailegrunail, intending to come out at Uamh-an-duine, which is at Creaganaich. It is alleged that the piper was heard playing right across the island, the music ascending through earth-holes - talamh-tuill - on the way the burden of his lament being:-

Mis air airin baidh 'us burrail
Measg nan glumag eagalaich
Uamh Chraidh am Baile-ghrunail
Uamh-an-Duin' an Creaganaich.

I drowning and howling
Amongst the horrid pools
The Pain Cave in Bailegrunail
The Man Cave in Creaganaich.

The dog came out at Uamb-an-Duine hairless and sightless, but the playing ceased and the piper never emerged. The conclusion is that the cave contained impassable pools, in one of which the piper was drowned.

Similar stories are told of many other places from Ireland to India and from Britain to Japan, and probably with as much foundation in fact.

The present sea-escarpment rises six feet or so above sea- level. Its face is fairly vertical and singularly honeycombed. Some of the old sea margin contains half-fossilised masses of shells caked together like the conglomerate rock of the coast of Lorne-some of the shells simply cemented together by the edges in the most delicate and fantastic manner like Indian filigree. In some places the face of the escarpment is still studded with limpets, whelks, both 'black and white, and mussels like the rocks of the shore below, against which the, sea now beats. And irresponsively cold the heart and irredeemably cold the imagination that would not be moved at the sight of the lowly crustaceans thus still clinging in death after unknown ages to their sapless mother rock, like a dead child clinging to its dead mother's breast.

The name Lismore is variously interpreted lios, a fort, and mor, great-great fort; lios, a garden-the great garden; and slios, a plain-the great plain.

The name may mean 'the great fort' from the number of forts in the place, the remains of which are still more or less visible. It may mean 'the great garden' from the fertility of the soil, the island having been the garden and granary of the great Lords of the, Isles when these semi-royal nobles held sway over the whole Highlands and Islands of Scotland and possessed a house and the half of Alban-I tigh Is leth Albain.' Or, it may mean 'the great plain' from its low-lying position in the midst of the sea surrounded by mountains.

Sliosmore is not a form of the name now known to the people of the place, though curiously enough it is the form used by the people of the Outer Isles when speaking of this island. And this form receives countenance from the disputation alleged to have occurred between Saint Columba and Saint Moluag.

It is said that Columba and Moluag were brothers. Each wished to possess Lismore and to make it the centre of his missionary labours, for there was much emulation among the saints of old-striving who should win most souls to Christ.

The brothers arranged to run a race and that the first to land should possess the island. They left together, each saint with his crew of clerics singing the Psalms of David- while they rowed their coracles as the Highland boatmen still sing their iorraim-boat-songs.

When approaching the island, the brethren still straining at their oars and the saints chanting their psalms, Moluag lifted his axe and cut of the little finger of his left hand, and throwing it ashore exclaimed: 'My witness be to God and man, my flesh and blood are on the land, Columba beloved'- 'M' fhianuis air Dia agus daoine m' fhuil is m' fheoil air tir, a Chaluim chaoimh.' Upon seeing the devotion of his brother Columba turned aside the bow of his boat and did not land. It is alleged that he tried to depreciate the island as represented in the following dialogue:-

COLUM-CILLE. Sliosmor mar ainm an eilean.
MOLUAG. Ma's a slios mor gu m'a slios tar'bhaeli.
COLUM-CILLE. Slocach, onocach, creagach.
MOLUAG. Brioghar, mioghar, preasach.
COLUM-CILLE. Fao'bhar a chloich'bhos a chionn.
MOLUAG. A goimhe foipe.
COLUM-CILLE. Fearna mar chonadb da.
MOLUAG. Gabhail mar a choingeal da.

Columba. The great plain be the name of the island.
Moluag. If great the plain, great be the fruit.
Columba. Hollow-full, knoll-full, rock-full.
Moluag. Fruit-full, sweet-full, shrub-full.
Columba. Be the edges of its rocks above.
Moluag. Be their venom under.
Columba. Green alder be its fuel.
Moluag. May it burn like the candle.

Embracing and blessing his brother and bidding him prosperity through time and eternity Columba proceeded, northwards, preaching the gospel and building churches, till he reached the palace of Brude, King of the Picts, near Inverness. When Brude beard that Columba was approaching, he was sore afraid, and barred his iron gates against him, and appealed to his gods for protection. But Columba prayed to his God against the gods of Brude, and immediately the iron bars fell down, and the iron gates of Brude opened wide, and Columba walked in, and so the King was converted to the Christian faith.

During the Norse occupation the western isles of Scotland, together with the Orkney and Shetland Isles on the north and the Isle of Man on the south, were ruled ecclesiastically from Norway.

This long disarticulated chain of islands was divided into two great groups, the line of demarcation being drawn across the small island of Carnaburg behind the island of Mull. The group of islands to the north of this line was called the Nordreys-the Northern Isles-and the group to the south the Sudreys-the Southern Isles.

An English diocese still retains the name of the southern group, 'Sodor and Man'-the Southern Isles and Man. The title is singularly inapplicable now, as all the Southern Isles are in Scotland, and the Isle of Man was only annexed to the British Crown in the year 1825. Upon the downfall of the Norsemen, Argyll and the Western Isles were joined into a bishopric entitled the 'See of Argyll and the Isles.' In the year 1200, John, Bishop of Dunkeld, sent his chaplain Harold to Innocent iii., asking that Argyll and the Isles might be disjoined from Dunkeld, and erected into a separate see with Harold as bishop thereof. The Pope admired the conscientiousness of the bishop, quoting the proverb, 'Rara avis in terra.'

The Pope appointed and consecrated Harold bishop of the new diocese accordingly. From its insularity, security, sanctity, and perhaps fertility, the island of Lismore was selected as the seat of the new bishop. A cathedral was built, the choir of which is now the parish church. The palace was 'built at Achanduin. The ruins of the palace situated on a high knoll are picturesque features in the picturesque landscape. Closely adjoining is the island of Bearnarey, where Columba was wont to preach under a large yew tree. The tree stood on the edge of the island, half of it over the land and half over the sea, and was capable of sheltering a thousand people beneath its widely spreading branches.

The people of Mull and Morven came in their skin coracles, wherein they sat out the service, while the people of Lismore came on foot and sat, on the ground, the island being accessible by foot at half-tide. From the circumstance of Colum-cille preaching there, the island of Bearnarey was looked upon as holy ground, and the tree under which he preached as sacred. An old poem speaks of.-

Dun stuadh Sta' inis
Air taobh tuath Latharna
Us Bearnara an iuthair uasail
Air taobh tuath Lioismoire.

The turret dun of Staffnage
Upon the north side of Lorne
And Bearnarey of the noble yew
Upon the north side of Lismore.

The remains of a small oratory and an oblation cairn are close by where the yew tree stood.

Colum-cille prophesied that the pride and greed of man would yet place beneath his feet the noble tree under which he and they found shade and shelter while discoursing on the lowly humanity of Christ, and that the guiltiness of the act would only he expiated by water and blood and three fires.

About the middle of the nineteenth century the proprietor of the island removed the tree to make a staircase in his house at Ardmhuenis, Benderloch. When felling the tree it came down upon a man crushing him to death and dyeing the rocks red with his blood.

When the boats left, towing the tree behind them, the day was calm and bright and the sea as smooth as a mirror, but when they approached Rudh-na-Fionnart near their destination, a sudden storm burst upon them, crushing the boat against the tree, whereby more lives were lost'

The house in which the tree was used took fire, and everything was destroyed except the staircase. The house was rebuilt and the magnificent stair again used, and again the house was destroyed by fire - all save the staircase.

Some say that this Castle of Lochnell, so singularly sheltered and beautifully situated, has been burnt and re- built three times, others say twice.

A bishop is invested with a pastoral staff emblematic of his office as shepherd of the flock. In Latin this star is called baculum, in Gaelic' bachull.'

On the erection of the see of Argyll and the Isles a man was appointed to the office of custodian of the baculum of the bishop. The office was honourable and important, and a man of standing in the district was selected for the appointment. The appointment was conferred upon Livingstone, some say of Lismore, others of Benderloch, adjoining. The Gaelic form of Livingstone is Mac-an-Leigh, son of the physician. Probably it originated from the Beatons, who for many centuries were celebrated all over Scotland, and are still spoken of in Highland tradition. The Beatons are said to be descended from Betan who came over with Colum-cille, and to have been physicians of the Columban Church in Scotland during many ages. There were three celebrated - families of them - one in Mull, one in Islay, and one in Skye. The parent house was in Mull, and their tombstones, which are at Iona and Killfinichen, are among the finest sculptured stones in Scotland. The Beatons were family physicians to the Stuart kings, as may be seen from the payments made to them in the Exchequer Rolls. The name assumes various forms as Bethune, Beaton, and Paton.

As indicating the tenacity of heredity, I may mention that I knew a descendant of one of these Beatons in the island of South Uist. He came from Skye when a young man, as a shepherd. He died in great poverty, an old man of eighty-eight in South Uist some fifteen years ago, in the most miserable hut I ever saw. The man was wholly unlettered, but he knew the Gaelic name of every plant, its medicinal properties, its flowering season, and all its various characteristics.

In those early times payments were made in kind. Those to the custodian of the staff of the Bishop of Lismore were made in lands. A small estate was given him near the cathedral and he was created a baron.

The cathedral church of Lismore is dedicated to Saint Moluag. The pastoral staff of the bishop was called the staff of Moluag - Bachull Moluag and various other names, and many people believe that it belonged to Moluag, and that the baron of Bachuill was keeper of it ages before the disjoining of Lismore from Dunkeld.

Besides being the keeper of the crozier, the Baron was almoner of the cathedral, dispensing the bounty of the bishop to the poor of the parish. In this capacity he was called 'An Deor'-the almoner. The site of the old dwelling of the barons is still called 'Tarach Taigh an Deor' - the site of the house of the almoner, and the ground upon which it stood 'Bruthach Taigh an Deor,'-the slope of the house of the almoner.

The 'Baron of Bachuill,' as Livingstone is still called, was also chancellor of the cathedral, and as such had to visit the landowners throughout the diocese to receive the tithes and all other dues accruing to the church. On these occasions the Baron carried the crozier of the bishop, at sight of which all men were bound to pay him homage.

The Bachull of Moluag was treated with veneration akin to awe by the people. Like the staff of St. Fillan of Glendochart, and the staff of St. Patrick of Armagh, the famous Bachull Isu, the staff of Moluag possessed, in the simple faith of the times, miraculous powers. It ensured safety at sea, truth on land, secured man from plague, woman from death, and cattle from murrain. And like the bell of St. Fillan, if carried away or left behind, it came home again of its own accord. Upon one occasion the keeper of the staff inadvertently left it behind him on the mainland, and only remembered his mistake when he landed in the island of Lismore. The Baron was considering how to recross the strait in the dark stormy night to recover his staff. Just then he heard something whizzing in the air behind him and passing his ear and falling before him in the rolag-nihara, rolled seaweed. The Baron bent down to see what it was, and to his great joy and relief it was his Bachull Moluag. Many similar stories are still current of this interesting relic - stories that show the veneration of the people and of the times.

Locally the crozier is called Caman na Bachuill, the crook of Bachull; Bachull Moluag, the Bachull of Moluag; Am Bachull Buidhe, the yellow bachull; Am Bachull Mor, the big Bachull; Am Bata Buidhe, the yellow stag. These last two names are in allusion to the metal with which the staff was covered.

Baron Livingstone, as the present custodian is called, possesses a small freehold estate in virtue of being the keeper of the staff of Moluag. The estate is called Bachuill, from the crozier being kept there. The crozier itself is frequently called after the estate, even to calling it Bachull na Bachuill, the Bachull of Bachull. The custodian of the crozier is called Baran a' Bhachuill, the Baron of the Bachull; Baran na Bachuill, the Baron of Bachull.

The Livingstones of Lismore wore unfortunate in their neighbour, Campbell of Airds. Sir Donald Campbell of Airds was a natural son of Campbell of Calder, now Cawdor. He is known in tradition as 'Domhnull Dubh nan Ard', Black Donald of Airds.

Sir Donald was an ecclesiastic at a time when many ecclesiastics were sorely perplexed which end of the see-saw to follow. While Rome was paramount Sir Donald was a Roman of the Romans; when Episcopacy was in the ascend- ant he swore by the Thirty-Nine Articles; and when Presbyterianism was triumphant Sir Donald Campbell became reconciled to Presbytery.

The man, was greedy of power and pelf, gaining ends regardless of means, a robber, steeped to the neck in fraud and guile, and pursued his evil courses with an address and adroitness that Jacob might have envied. , He was bishop-elect of Lismore, but had not been appointed, the Pope probably being uncertain of him.

'Is math an la an ni am madadh-ruadh searman,' A good day it is when the fox preaches a sermon. Sir Donald Campbell announced that he was to preach in Lismore and that he expected the people to attend. He preached accordingly. On the following day it was reported that the black sheep of Alasrath belonging to Sir Donald was stolen. The people were alarmed, sheep-stealing being a capital crime and Sir Donald implacable. The houses were searched, and that there might be 'no remissness of duty Campbell himself accompanied the search party. The house of the Baron was searched like the rest, and there on the rafters was found the skin-lug-marks and all-of the black sheep of Alasrath. The people were astonished, and, apparently, none more than Sir Donald Campbell. Sir Donald gave the Baron the alternative of losing his head or losing his lands.

'Well,' said the honest Baron, 'I am not a thief; there .has never been a thief of my family as far back as I can trace. But some evil-minded man has dole this evil thing to me to bring myself to disgrace and my children to ruin. I am not afraid to die-the guiltless die but once, the guilty many times; but rather than that posterity should cast up to my children that their father was hanged for stealing a sheep, I leave my land with you, Sir Donald, and my integrity with my children as their only legacy.'

Campbell thereupon took possession of all the lands of Livingstone south of Fuaran Frangaig, including Bailegarbh, Cnoc na Croiche to the Lake of Cileandrais, Garadh nan Cleireach, Peighinn Chailean, and on to Crois Dughaill. Bachuill he left with the Baron.

When Sir Donald lay dying - and his death was terrible - he sent a fleet-footed messenger to bring the Baron to him. But his wife sent a swifter messenger to bring, back the other. And all night long Sir Donald kept calling out, 'The Baron!' 'The Baron!' 'O the Baron!' 'What is keeping the Baron!' 'Why is not the Baron coming?' And his wife kept saying, 'Yes, love, yes. Thou didst ever love the Baron! thou didst great favours for him; the grateful Baron will soon be here.' And all night long the black raven kept croaking in the elm tree above Black Sir Donald, as did the raven in the tree above the bed of Duncan. Before morning dawned, on a night of terrific wind and thunder and lightning, Black Sir Donald Campbell of Airds was dead.

When the man bribed to do Sir Donald's work at Alasrath heard that his master was dead he was sore dismayed and like a man bereft, running to and fro, rolling his tongue like a bear, and bleating like a sheep. Ultimately the unhappy man rushed up the lofty Clach-tholl, from the precipitous head of which he had the grace Judas-like to cast himself, and was dashed to pieces on the rocks below.

Baron Carmichael of Sgurain[1], and others whom this man of fraud and guile had robbed of their lands, resented the robberies and chafed under their wrongs, but Baron Livingstone behaved with such Christian meekness and resignation under his grievous wrong that seemingly even, the hard heart of his wily injurer was touched.

This was not the only occasion on which the Livingstones of Bachuill suffered at the hands of the Campbells of Airds. Towards the close of the 18th century a road was formed along the length of Lismore. This road cut a piece off the little estate of Bachuill. Sir John Campbell of Airds proposed to Baron John Livingstone of Bachuill to exchange this piece of land for a piece that lay between Bachuill and the glebe. To this the Baron consented, and the exchange was made. 'But,' said Sir John Campbell, 'as the land that I am giving is of more value to you than the land that you are giving me, you must pay me a small sum in addition.' 'Whatever you say is right is right, Sir John,' said the Baron. 'Well, we will call it the small sum of fifty shillings, then,' said the wily Sir John. 'Whatever you say is right is right, Sir John,' said the Baron unsuspectingly. The thin end of the wedge being thus got in, in the following year an additional sum of fifty shillings was exacted and paid, and so on from year to year, till the sum amounted to £17, 10s. a year!

While discussing these proceedings a few years ago with .the late Baron of Bachuill, the writer remarked that the honesty of the Livingstones had 'been no protection against the guile of the Campbells of Airds. 'No,' said the good, kindly Baron, with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his lips, quoting an old proverb, 'There is no watertightness in the divots of the Campbells.' (Cha’n'eil dion ann an sgrath nan Caimbeulach.) ' What comes with the rain goes with the wind,' says the old proverb. The Campbells of Airds lost their lands long ago, and their representatives are scattered far and wide. Even their burying-place in the midst of the lovely woods of Airds, and which they took great pains to enclose and secure, is no longer left sacred to them, and strangers bury therein. Sadly curtailed and small, Bachuill is still the property of the ancient Livingstones, together with the love and esteem of all who know them.

It is not quite clear whether a fostership or a marriage connection or both existed between the Stewarts of Appin and the Livingstones of Lismore, but the friendship between them was strong and enduring. A Gaelic proverb says: 'Cairdeas gu caogad co-altas gu ceud'-relationship to fifty, fostership to a hundred. The following incident throws a lurid light upon life in the Highlands - and indeed in the Lowlands also - in the first decade of the sixteenth century. There had been wolfish feuds about lands between the Stewarts of Appin and the Macleans of Duart.

The Earl of Argyll - whose daughter Elizabeth - the subject of Campbell's poem of 'Glenara'-was married to Maclean-brought about a reconciliation, and Stewart went to Duart to ratify the peace. There were games and feats of strength and arms, in all of which Sollamh Mac Colla, Solomon Maccoll, the gille cas fliuch of Stewart, was victorious. The Macleans were 'neither to haud nor to bind,' and they fell upon the luckless gille cas fluich, and beat him to death.

Then they jeered at the body, saying, 'nach ann ann a tha an smior chnamh ; nach ann ann a tha an ola dhonn! ' ' Is it not in him that the bone marrow is? is it not in him that the neatsfoot oil is?' and other taunting terms, as if they had a newly killed cow before them.

Stewart was grieved at the death of his trusted man, and riled at the taunts of his slayers, and he replied with more warmth than wisdom, 'Cha b'e brisgeanan ban an raoin agus faochagan dubh a chladaich idir teachd-an-tir mo ghille-sa.' 'The pale silverweed of the field, and the black whelk of the strand were not at all the sustenance of my man.' The insinuation - perhaps all the more from the latent truth it contained - roused the Macleans to red heat, and twenty Duart swords came down on the hapless head of Appin.

Not content with slaying Stewart, the Macleans suspended his corpse against the wall of their castle, and threatened death to any who would dare to take it down.

The men of Appin fled for their lives, landing on the nearest point of Lismore, nor did they rest till they placed that island and the sea on either side of it between them- selves and Mull.

Livingstone of Bachuill was grieved when he beard of the death of his good friend Stewart of Appin. He said nothing, however, but when night came, he and 'his two red-haired daughters went away in their skiff, nor were they long in reaching Duart. Livingstone and his daughters miraculously managed to 'bring the body of the Lord of Appin to their skiff, and to put to sea before they were discovered, but they had hardly left the shore when the Macleans came rushing down with wild tumult and wilder imprecations.

They immediately launched their 'boats and leapt into them, but as hurriedly leapt out of them again, amidst yells of execration, for boat after boat filled with water and sank beneath their feet. The wise Baron had been before them and driven auger-holes through their boats. Ultimately they managed with much difficulty to launch a sixteen-oared war galley less damaged than the rest, that had brought home to Duart many a 'creach' from distant island and near mainland.

After a terrible struggle, amidst the swirling currents of Boinne nam Biodag,' the Macleans came up to the Livingstones in running through the narrow shallow strait that separates the small islet of Musdal from the main island of Lismore.

Just as a crowd of Macleans - a tithe of whom would have sent it to the bottom - was about to jump down into the little skiff of the Livingstones, a swift, swirling current threw the large galley on a sunken rock, on which it was left hard and fast by the rapidly receding tide, while the same rapid river-like current rushed the little skiff of the Livingstones far beyond reach.

They rowed their hardest, and soon reached a creek, where they landed, and hurriedly buried the body in the shingle of the beach. The people of Lismore and Appin gathered, and carrying the body of Stewart to Clachan, buried it in the cathedral church of Saint Moluag.

And there in the 'dim religious light' of the old fane the tombstone of the Lord of Appin is still to be seen, and the story of the good Baron of Bachuill and his two brave daughters is still told.

The creek where the Livingstones landed and buried the body is called 'Port Chailleach,' the port of the women.

Even yet the mention of the two red-haired daughters of the Baron of Bachuill brings a flush to the face of a Maclean!

The burying-ground of Lismore is named after Saint Moluag. It is situated on the summit of a prominent knoll. From this knoll there is a most extensive and varied view, rarely equalled, nowhere excelled, of sea and lake, of wood and glen and mountains. To the back are the mountains of Mull and Morven, to the left the long vista of the Corran- the sea running in among the mountains of Lochaber, in the midst of which stands Ban Nevis towering above his neigh- bours. In front is Cruachan and the Linn, and Land of Lorne, and to the right the Small Isles with the mountains of Jura in the dim blue distance beyond.

Highlanders are taunted with clinging like limpets to their native rocks. At all events Highlanders cling heart and soul to the memory of the woods and lochs and glens and mountains among which they were reared, and which they never forget wherever they go.

On the summit of the burying-ground is a cross called 'Crois Dubh - the black cross,' and known on the mainland as the 'Black Cross of Lismore,' - Crois Dubh Liosmoire. Till recently all public announcements were made at this cross, and a proclamation was not considered valid unless made here' The cross adjoins the site of the first Christian church in the island, and probably like other crosses throughout the Highlands and Islands was used as a preaching-station before there was a church. The first church of Saint Moluag in Lismore is believed to have been constructed of wattles, like most, if not all, of the Columban churches, and even dwellings, of the time. It stood on the top of the burying-ground. The cathedral church, now the parish church, is at the foot of the knoll. It was completed in 1300, sixty-four years after the place was made into a see. This church, like many others, was burnt by the Norsemen, who massacred the people, for these Viking invaders revelled in blood and fire. During last century, while a grave was being dug on the site of this ancient church, a three-branched candlestick was found. The candle- stick was gold, small and finely formed, though plain. Bits of burnt wood, stone, and other debris of the early church came to light at the same time. Possibly this interesting relic ot early Christian art formed part of the altar furnishing of the simple wattle church of Saint Moluag[2].' This candlestick was secured by General Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochnell, but what became of it on the dispersion of his fine collection is not known. The writer made minute personal inquiries for it at the British Museum and elsewhere, but unsuccessfully. In the centre of the burying-ground, and adjoining the foundation of this early church, is the lair of the Barons of Bachuill. This would indicate the connection of the family with the situation of the lair and church, and was very early, probably preceding by many centuries their appointment to the custody of the pastoral staff of the bishop in the thirteenth century. Probably the Livingstones were the keepers of the actual staff of Saint Moluag, and were simply confirmed in the office when the see of Argyll and the Isles was created. If this be so, the crozier of Saint Moluag is one of the very oldest relies of Christian art in Scotland, and second to none in interest. The crozier is 2 feet 10 inches long. It is of wood, and was sheathed with metal, probably gold, and is dotted all over with the marks of the pins fastening the metal to the wood.

The earliest charter now extant of the Barons of Bachuill is dated l544. This, however, is only a renewal, and refers to a previous charter. In it the Baron of the time is spoken of patronymically as John, the son of Molmoire, the son of Iver. Molmoire is Maol-Moire, -'the tonsured of Mary.'

The Barons of Bachuill are of interest to all who are interested-and who is not ?-in Dr. David Livingstone. The great missionary explorer was descended from these Livingstone Barons of Bachuill in Lismore. Neil Livingstone, the young son of the old Baron, joined the army of Prince Charlie, and was in the rising of l745. He escaped, but not scathe less, the disasters of Culloden and made his way home to Bachuill. But Lismore was not a safe asylum, being the country of the Campbells, and the parish of the Rev. John MacAulay. This John MacAulay, who had been minister of South Uist, was the grandfather of Lord Macaulay, and like his father in Harris, the Rev. Aulay MacAulay, he made himself obnoxious by trying to secure the Prince.

Neil Livingstone crossed from Lismore to Morven, and after a time from Morven to Mull, and finally from Mull to Ulva, adjoining.

Donald Livingstone, the son of Neil Livingstone, was in the local Fencibles of his day. During the annual drills at Oban and Stirling he made the acquaintance of his namesake and distant kinswoman, Catherine Livingstone, whose father was a farmer at Bailemore in Kerrara, opposite Oban. When his regiment was finally disbanded Donald Livingstone married Catherine Livingstone and brought her home with him to Ulva. Things, however, did not prosper in Ulva with the young people, and after a time they removed to Blantyre on the Clyde. Donald Livingstone had a son, Neil, the father of David Livingstone, whose name will live while courage, honesty, and humanity are admired among men.

The tomb of the Livingstones of Lismore adjoins the site of the original church of Saint Moluag. The place is called Plod nam Baran, Plod na Bachuill, Plod Chlann-an- leigh, the lair of the Barons, the lair of Bachuill, the lair of the Livingstones.

The Barons are buried by themselves, no member of their family being buried with them. There is only one known instance of a member of his family being buried with a Baron-a wife who, when dying, appealed to be buried in death beside him whom she loved in life. The husband and wife were so devotedly attached to one another throughout their long married life that the touching appeal was acceded to, and she was accordingly buried in the same grave with the Baron.

The grave of the Barons is situated by itself, and is known as An Uaigh Mhor-the great grave, Uaigh nam Baran - the grave of the Barons, and Uaigh na Bachuill - the grave of Bachuill, and other names.

One of the Barons was a man of immense strength and stature, and was called An Gorm Mor, the big blue.

The gravestone of this Baron, Leac a'Ghuirm Mhoir, is of great interest. The carving on it is that of the Middle Ages, and in high relief but greatly weathered and defaced, and in some places worn out. On the upper half of the stone is the :figure of a man in the kilt-much as the dress is worn now-and holding a long staff in his right hand, probably the staff of Saint Moluag. Along the sides of the stone trellised foliage ascends intertwining at the, top and then bursting into blossoms and drooping gracefully over the head of the man. The carving on the lower half of the stone is even more obliterated, though still exhibiting traces of deer and dogs, of hunters and hunting scenes.

The following is a copy of the 1544 charter of the Livingstones of Bachuill:-

Universis et singulis pateat per presentes, nos Archibaldum Campbell Dominum feodatorium terrarum de Argyll, Campbell et Lorn, cum consensu et assensu Carissimi Patris ac Tutoris nostri Archibaldi Comitis Argadiae, Domini Campbell et Lorn ac Domini terrarum earundem, Concessisse, necnon in honore Dei omnipotentis beatae virginis, et Sancti nostri Patroni Moloci, Mortificasse, et prosenti scripto nostro confirmasse dilecto signifero Joanni McMilmore-vic-Kiver, et haeredibus suis masculis, do suo corpore legitime procreatis seu procreandis, quibus deficientibus ad nostrum do dimidietate terrarum do Poynbachilla et Paynaballan, extendentis ad dimidietatem mareatee terrarum jacentes in Insula do Lismore, infra dominium nostrum de Lorn et vice comitatem de Argyll, cum custodia magni baculi beati Moloci, ita libere sicut caoteri predecessores dicti Joannis habuerunt a suis prodecessoribus, dominus de Lorn, cum custodia dicti Baculi in puram et liberam eleemosynam prout libere, quiete, honorifice, integre, bone et in pace, sicut aliquaa terre infra regnum dantur seu concedantur; et hoc, pro salute animarum nostrum predecessorum ac successorum. In eujus rei testimonium, sigillum nostrum, una eum sigillo carissimi Patris nostri ac Tutoris nostrorumque subscriptibus manualibus huic nostro scripto jussimus.

Datum apud Castellachlan, nono die Mensis Aprilis milesimo quingentesimo quadragesimo quarto, presentibus ibidem Johane McCaul de Dunolly, Johane McCaul de Baray, Colino Campbell do Ardkinles, et Lachlan McLachlan do eodem cum diversis aliis.

(sic subscribitur) ARGYLL.


Taken by Gregor McGregor, minister of Lismore, from a copy transcribed from the original charter, on the 18th June 1810, in presence of Mr. John Stewart, minister of Lismore, and Mr. George Campbell, minister of Ardchatten, by Mr. Hugh Fraser, minister.

Lismore Manse,

16th January 1845.

To All anti Singular let it be known by those presents that we, Archibald Campbell, Lord Fiar [feudatory] of the lands of Argyll, Campbell, and Lorne, with the consent of our dearest father Archibald, Earl of Argyll, Lord Campbell and Lorne, and Lord of the same lands, have granted, and in the honour of God Omnipotent, the Blessed Virgin, and Saint Moloc our Patron, have mortified and by our present writing have confirmed to our Beloved Standard-Bearer [signiferl, John McMilmore-vic-Kiver and the heirs-male of his body lawfully procreated or to be procreated, whom failing, to return to his own gift all and singular our Lands, being half of the lands of Poynbachilla and Paynaballan, extending to half of a merk or mark land lying in the Island of Lismore, within our Lordship of Lorne and Sheriffdom of Argyll, with the custody of the Great Staff of Saint Moloc as freely as the other predecessors of the said John have held from our predecessors Lords of Lorne, with the custody of the said Staff in pure and free Alms as freely, quietly, honorably, completely, well and peaceably as any lands within the kingdom are given or granted, and this for the safety of the souls of us our predecessors or successors. In testimony whereof we have ordered our seal along with the seal of our dearest father and tutor, and our manual subscriptions to be appended to this our Writ. Given at Castle Lachlan on the 9th of April 1544 in the presence of John McCaul of Dunolly, John McCaul of Baray, Colin Campbell, Ardkinlas, and Lachlan McLachlan of that Ilk, with various others.

(Signed) ARGYLL.

By the mandate of Archibald, Earl of Argyll.

The names of the lands are not spelt quite the same as in the abstract of the Charter in the Origines Parochiales, vol. ii. part i. P163 where a figure of the Bachuill of Saint Moloc will be found. The original is there said to be in the possession of the Livingstones of Bachuill, whose representatives still have the charter, but the staff has been acquired by the Duke of Argyll.

[1] Baron Carmichael, Lismore, was a man of some standing in his day. He was usually called ‘Am Baran Ban'-the Fair Baron; and 'Baran Tigh Sgurain'-the Baron of Sgurain House-from the precipitous projection on which the house stood. One of the family was Bishop of Lismore, and was usually called An t-Fispuig Ban. He was one of the bishops during whose episcopacy the Cathedral of Lismore was built. Some three centuries subsequently descendants of the Fair Baron were still fair - Dr. Dugald Carmichael was called 'Dughall Ban'-Fair Dugald; and 'An Dotar Ban'-the Fair Doctor. He is known to science as the ‘Father of Marine Botany,' and was the intimate friend and correspondent of Sir William Hooker, who called many marine plants after him. His nephew, the accomplished Celtic scholar, the late Rev. Dr. Clark, Killmallie, went under the name of 'Gilleaspa Ban-Archibald the Fair.

[2] Saint Moluag is said to have died at Ardelach, while on one of his many missionary journeys. When the people of Lismore heard of his death twenty-four of the strongest men in the island travelled to Ardebch and brought his body home on their shoulders and buried him within his own rustic little church amidst the moaning of men and the wailing of women, for Moluag was much beloved. This is the tradition, still current in Lismore. Other accounts state that he died at Rosmarkie, and that he is buried there.

Last updated 20 April, 2013