The parish records of Fortingall
reach back only to 1749. Although nearby Kenmore Parish data
pre-dates this time, no link between our great-great grandparents
Duncan McKercher and Catherine McLellan has been found with the
earlier Kenmore families.
Consequently, the search ends with
them .. at this point in time. But we can't help but question how we
MacKerchers got to Glen Lyon .. from where .. when .. and why?
History .. augmented by family
lore .. provides a context by which a reasonale scenario can be
postulated. For instance, the McKerchers .. according to historian
Alexander Stewart .. came to Glen Lyon from Braemar in
Aberdeenshire. He failed to cite a date. A HIGHLAND MONTHLY of the
19th century somewhat clarifies our chronology by noting M'Kerchars
and M'Kerchers were among the Duke of Atholl's militiamen enrolled
in Glen Lyon in 1706. Indeed this makes it probable our antecedents
were among those Highland Jacobites who fought "like madmen" and
almost annihilated English forces in the narrow gorge of
Killiecrankie in Perthshire on July 27, 1689. We know from a search
of records Donald McKerchar and his family were settled at Kenmore
.. less than five miles south of Glen Lyon .. at least by 1678. And
significantly, family correspondence which I hold characterizes our
family as being originally from Inverey and "intensely loyal to the
house of Stuart" and as "Jacobites".
A close look at Scottish history
suggests another clue in the actions of James Graham .. the fifth
Earl of Montrose. In the summer of 1644, Montrose enlisted a force
of Highlanders from Aberdeenshire to serve in restoring King Charles
I .. a Stuart .. to the throne. From that time until June 1645,
Montrose criss-crossed the breadth of the Highlands in pursuit of
the Duke of Argyl .. Archibald, chief of the Clan Campbell.
Importantly, Glen Lyon then was Campbell country .. and the Montrose
force campaigned through this region on its charge into adjoining
Argylshire. There, Montrose decisively defeated the Campbell clan at
their Inveraray stronghold. Eventually, he met defeat at Philiphaugh
by the English in June 1645.. and because of King Charles"
subsequent surrender in England .. the Earl disbanded his
Highlanders in May 1646.
In his THE CLANS OF THE SCOTTISH
HIGHLANDS, R. R. McIan observed Farquharson clansmen under their
chief, Donald, joined Montrose "with a great number of gallant men".
Furthermore, Alan McNie in his CLAN FARQUHARSON HISTORY noted the
M'Kerachers of Perthshire had descended from this same Donald
Farquharson of Monaltrie.
These findings convince me ..
until someone proves otherwise .. our MacKerchers were among
Montrose's army. In accompanying the Earl in his pursuit of the
Campbells through Glen Lyon, our ancestors discovered the legendary
protection of its mountain terrain and numerous caves. Once
Montrose's force no longer existed, it was unsafe to return to
Braemar.. by that time under British control. A safe haven for these
rebels was there first priority.
Thus, in 1646 or soon thereafter,
the MacKerchers made their way to Glen Lyon .. only 45 miles to the
west and south of Braemar. There, they established a new life.