DNA used to try and solve the name game for outlawed MacGregors

The MacGregors were once the most feared and persecuted clansmen in Scotland – forced to renounce their ancient ancestry or face execution.

Clan Gregor was effectively erased from existence after King James VI decreed the name MacGregor should be abolished following the murder of the King’s Forester, killed for hanging some clansmen for poaching.

For two centuries the MacGregors, including the legendary Rob Roy, lived as outlaws.

MacGregor clansmen, caught after refusing to renounce their name, were killed while the women were stripped, branded, and whipped through the streets before they and their children were sold into slavery in Britain’s new American colonies.

Others legally changed their surnames to escape persecution as the clan was dispersed to the four winds.

But now, 233 years after the persecution of the MacGregors finally ended, the latest advances in DNA technology are being used for the first time by the Clan Gregor Society to welcome “lost” clansmen back into their fold.

The DNA profile of a known descendent of the chief’s line – the MacGregors of Glencarnoch – is being used as the benchmark for the vital tests. He is known simply by the codename Kit 2124.

And the council of the Clan Gregor Society has announced that it will admit to full membership of the society anyone who can prove they share 31 out of the 37 DNA markers in common with the main MacGregor bloodline profiler – irrespective of their surname.

Professor Richard McGregor, the chairman of the Clan Gregor Society of Scotland, said:

“The council has taken this decision in recognition of the fact that, as a result of Clan Gregor’s past turbulent history, individuals were required to assume names which were totally divorced from their actual clan, and although such name changes were often documented at the time, others were not.

“The council recognises the ancestors of some MacGregors chose not to return to the original clan name for a variety of reasons, and that advances in DNA testing now allows descendants of such individuals to be identified as belonging to the clan.”

• THE persecution of the Clan Gregor began in 1603 when King James VI issued an edict proclaiming that the name MacGregor should be “altogidder abolished” and ruling that those of the “wicked and unhappie race of the Clan Gregour” who bore the name must renounce it or suffer death.

The gentry were encouraged to hunt down Gregors who refused to change their surnames and a price of 1,000 merks – a fortune – was put on the heads of clan leaders, with 100 merks for other clan members.

The persecution finally ended in 1774, when the Act of Proscription against the clan was repealed.

To find out more please see the new MacGregor DNA blog.

Surnames that were looked at or this project are:

Agor, Bennett, Black, Campbell, Card/Cart, Clark, Dougall, Dowie, Drummond, Foxton, Greer/Grier/Grierson, Gregor, Gregory, Gregson, Grieg/Gregg, Grieve, Grigsby, Gruer, Hardy, King, Lackey/Leckie, Lawrie, MacDougall, MacFarlane, MacGregor, MacGregor-Skinner, MacPherson, MacWhannell/McIlchonnell, Magruder/McGruder, Malloch, Mathews, McAdam, McAdams, McGee/Magee, McGregor, McGrew/McGreer, McLaughlin/Gilmore/Stranahan, MacNab, McNee, McWhannell, Megehee, Mitchell, Moore, Mustard, Nevins, Nichols, Offutt, Orr, Peterson, Pyatt, Ree/McLergan/McLean, Reese, Reid, Rodgers, Shanahan/Strannigan, Shankland, Shipperlee, Skerratt, Skinner, Smith, Snow, Stallings, Stirling, Thorn, Turk, Warner, Welcker, West, Westran, Whyte/White


About Amanda Moffet

I run www.scotclans.com with Rodger Moffet. Live in Edinburgh and love travelling around Scotland gathering stories.

View all posts by Amanda Moffet →

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>