Select Campbell Miscellany

Here are some Campbell stories and accounts over the years:

The Campbell Name

It was Sir Cailein Mor Campbell's grandfather Dugald of Lochawe who is said to have been the first given the nickname "Cam Beul" since he apparently had the engaging trait of talking out of one side of his mouth. Cam beul means curved mouth in the Gaelic. This Duncan was so much loved by his family that they took his nickname as their family name and held to it even beyond Argyll.  

The spelling of the name was originally Cambel. Then when Robert the Bruce's son King David came to the throne as King of Scots he brought with him a number of Norman knights to whom he gave lands in an attempt to introduce Norman efficiency in administration. David had been at the English court and admired the Norman system of feudalism.  The use of the spelling "Campbell" may perhaps have been as a result of Norman rather than Gaelic scribes attempting to write the Gaelic name.  

The name Cambel was first used by the family in the 13th century.  The first chief of the clan to appear on record as "Campbell" may well have been Sir Duncan of Lochawe when he was created Lord Campbell in 1445.

Inveraray Castle

An Inveraray Castle has been standing on the shores of Loch Fyne in Argyllshire since the 1400’s.  But the castle seen today is much later in origin.  It was in fact inspired by a sketch by Vanbrugh, the architect of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard, in the 1700’s.  

The foundation stone to the castle was laid in 1746 and what followed was the construction, to a design by the architects Roger Morris and William Adam, of a baroque Palladian and Gothic-style castle.  Both architects died before the castle was completed forty three years later in 1789.  

Some remodeling occurred after a fire in 1877.  There was a second devastating fire almost a hundred years later in 1975.  After that time central heating was installed for the first time.  The castle remains the home of the Duke of Argyll, the chief of clan Campbell.

The Campbells and Their Reputation Post-Glencoe

The Irish writer Robert Bell wrote in 1988:  

“The Campbells of Argyll  
  • despite their leading the Covenanters against Charles I  
  • despite their support for Cromwell (costing the 8th Earl his head)  
  • and despite coming out for the Monmouth rebellion (costing the 9th Earl his head)
grew in power through the 17th century at the expense of the McDonalds, the Lords of the Isles.  

They were avid supporters of the English Crown and led government forces against the Jacobites in the 1715 and 1745 rebellions.  Under government orders, Robert Campbell of Glenlyon in Perthshire, a cadet of the house of Argyll, carried out the massacre of the clan Iain Abrach MacDonalds of Glencoe in Argyllshire, which gave rise to the famous clan feud." 

The Campbell’s consistent support of the English Crown against the forces of Scottish nationalism during the late 17th and early 18th centuries did make the Campbells unpopular in many quarters in Scotland.  The Glencoe massacre in 1692 has continued to be seen as a particularly notorious example of their support.

The Campbells Are Coming

The Gaelic name of this well-known tune is Baile Ionaraora or The Town of Inveraray, the place where the Campbell clan castle stands.  Some say it was composed around 1715 by a piper-composer inspired by a local wedding.  However, the words handed down have a more martial air. 

The song may therefore have materialized at the time of the Jacobite uprisings.  The Campbells were Loyalist to the Government at this time.  One historian ascribed the song to one of the bagpipe tunes that accompanied the entrance of the Argyle Highlanders into Perth and Dundee.  Robert Burns wrote a version of the song. 

The words are fairly simple and go as follows:  

“Upon the Lomonds I lay, I lay,   
Upon the Lomonds I lay, I lay,

I looked down to bonnie Lochleven  
And saw three perches play-hay-hay!  

The Great Argyll he goes before,  
He makes the cannons and guns to roar,  
With sound o'trumpet, pipe and drum,  
The Campbells are coming, Ho-Ro, Ho-Ro!  

The Campbells they are a' in arms,  
Their loyal faith and truth to show,  
With banners rattling in the wind,  
The Campbells are coming Ho-Ro, Ho-Ro!   

The Campbells are coming Ho-Ro, Ho-Ro!  
The Campbells are coming Ho-Ro, Ho-Ro!  
The Campbells are coming to bonnie Lochleven  
The Campbells are coming Ho-Ro, Ho-Ro!"

Campbells in County Tyrone

The Tyrone Campbells tended not to be the Scottish Campbells, but a native Tir Eoghain sept, Mac Cathmhaoil (from Cathmhaol meaning “battle-champion”). 

This sept got its name from Cathmhaol: 

  • descended from Feradhach  
  • son of Muireadhach  
  • son of Eoghan  
  • who was the son of Niall Naoighiallach.  
The MacCathmhaoils were the leading sept of Cenél Fearadhaigh and thus were often called Cenél Fearadhaigh.  They were to be found in the Clogher area of county Tyrone.  They became an important church family.

Governor David Campbell and the White David Campbells

David Campbell, Governor of Virginia in the 1830’s, had the following to say, in a letter he wrote in 1840, about the White David branch of his family: 

"The Campbell family from which I am descended was originally from Inveraray in the Highlands of Scotland. They came to Ireland in the latter part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth and thence to America.  John Campbell, my great grandfather and the great grandfather of General William Campbell of the Revolution, came from Ireland with a family of ten or twelve children and settled near Lancaster in Pennsylvania in the year 1726. 

His eldest son Patrick was the grandfather of General William Campbell.  His youngest son David, White David, was the father of Colonel Arthur Campbell and my grandfather.  The family remained in Pennsylvania but a few years and then removed itself to the frontiers of Virginia and Augusta county. Here they lived many years. John Campbell, my father and the eldest son of Colonel Arthur Campbell, was born, raised and educated in this county.” 

The Campbells were probably in Augusta county, Virginia by 1738 when Patrick Campbell acquired 1,546 acres of land at Beverley Manor.

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