MS 1467

MS 1467, earlier known as MS 1450, is a mediaeval Gaelic manuscript which contains numerous pedigrees for many prominent Scottish individuals and clans. Transcriptions of the genealogies within the text were first published in the early 19th century and have ever since been used by writers on the clan histories. The 19th century transcriptions and translations from the manuscript have long been considered inadequate; yet there is no modern, scholarly edition of the manuscript.[1]

Description of the manuscript

The manuscript known as MS 1467 is a mediaeval Gaelic manuscript held in the National Library of Scotland.[2] The MS 1467 is one of two manuscripts which are bound together in a document known as the MS 72.1.1. The first section of the MS 72.1.1, folios 19, is the MS 1467; the second section is known as the Broad Book, and dates to 1425. The MS 1467 is made of vellum and measures 23 by 19 centimetres (9.1 by 7.5 in). It was written by Dubhghall Albanach mac mhic Cathail; according to Ronnie Black, he was likely a member of the MacMhuirich bardic family, and a native of Kintyre.[3] According to Wilson McLeod, Dubhghall Albanach wrote the manuscript at Ballybothy, in Co Tipperary, Republic of Ireland.[4]

The first folio of MS 1467 contains many pedigrees for prominent individuals and families.[5] Folios 29 consist of a sermon ascribed to King Solomon; an account of the deaths of St Philip, St Andrew, St James, Christ and John the Baptist; a part of the Liber Scintillarum, translated from Latin; a poem about how John the Baptist was executed by a Gael; several pious anecdotes; and an account of St Paphnutius. These folios are written much more carefully than the preceding folio which contains the genealogies. Black suggested that this may reflect that Dubhghall Albanach was much more interested in such religious topics than the genealogies.[3]

The quality of the text of the genealogies is very poor; in some places the writing degrades into scratches and scribbling. Other stains and rubbing marks have also deteriorated the manuscript; these are derived from the forming of the front and back covers. In the 19th century, the eminent Scottish historian William Forbes Skene, in an attempt to render portions of the text more legible, added chemicals to the portions of text which were difficult to read. The unfortunate result was that brown, green, and blue stains appear on the manuscript. In some cases these stains improve the legibility of the text, but they also prevent any examination under ultra-violet light.[3]

History of the manuscript

According to Black, the genealogies within the MS 1467 appear to have been copied from an older text, possibly dating from about 1400. Black noted that these pedigrees are untidily put together, which suggests that it was hastily written. The manuscript was obtained by Rev. John Beaton, and subsequently passed into the possession of Rev. David Malcolm of Duddingston, who presented it to the Edinburgh Philosophical Society in 1738. Sometime later the Broad Book was likewise in the possession of the society and the two manuscripts were bound together in 1813.[3]

In 1847, the Iona Club printed a collection of papers, edited by Donald Gregor and Skene, titled Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis. This publication included a paper titled "Genealogies of the Highland Clans, extracted from Ancient Gaelic MSS", which included a transcription and translation of the manuscript, with notes by Skene.[6] The manuscript was titled "Gaelic MS, written circa A.D. 1450". The publication stated that the manuscript had been found by accident the previous year, within the collection of the Faculty of Advocates.[7][8] At the time of 'discovery', the last leaf was extremely faded and described as being nearly illegible in places. At first, careful examination of the manuscript showed that it must have been written roughly about 1450. Later, after more examination, the specific date of 1467 was found within the manuscript itself.[7] Later in 1880, Skene again had portions of the manuscript printed in an appendix to his multi-volume work Celtic Scotland, under the title "Legendary Descent of the Highland Clans, according to Irish MSS". A second, lightly edited, edition was published ten years later.[6] Within the Celtic Scotland transcription, Skene omitted many words, phrases and even entire genealogies which he could not read, or understand. In Celtic Scotland, Skene made several corrections to his earlier transcriptions. However, he also added text from other sources. In consequence, this hybrid has been confused by many writers to be a literal and verbatim transcription of MS 1467.[3][9]

From the 19th century to the early 20th century, the manuscript was considered to have been written by a person of the name Maclachlan—as the pedigree of Clanlachlan is much more detailed than other clans and various intermarriages are given within the clan itself. In consequence, it was assumed that the manuscript once formed part of the Kilbride Collection, which was long preserved by the Maclachlans of Kilbride.[7]

There is no modern, scholarly edition of the manuscript.[6]

19th century use of the manuscript

Gaelic scholar Alexander Macbain, one of Skene's greatest critics,[6] stated that Skene relied far too much on the pedigrees within the manuscript; and urged that the pedigrees should be used with caution.[10] Over the years such sentiments have been echoed by others; for example, in the early 20th century, writer George Eyre-Todd stated that Skene had a "fatal propensity for setting up theories on insufficient foundations, and his blind devotion to the MS. of 1467".[11] More recently, David Sellar stated that Skene's transcription of the manuscript was indeed far from perfect. Sellar noted that Skene's "Table of the Descent of the Highland Clans", which appears in Skene's Highlanders, is "exceedingly speculative" and misleading, as it is partially derived from inaccurate transcriptions from the manuscript. Even so, Sellar noted that the conclusions which Skene derived from it had been relied upon for too long.[6]

List of pedigrees

The manuscript contains pedigrees for the following clans and individuals.[12]

CaimbeulCampbellThe earliest known pedigree which gives the clan a "British" ancestry (from Uther Pendragon, and Arthur)[13]
Clann Eóghain na h-OitrichClan Ewen of OtterContains an early pedigree.[14]
Clann Ghille ÁdhagáinMacLennan
Clann Ghille Eadhráin
Clann Raghnaill etc.Macdonald of Clanranald etc.
Clann ShomhairleMacdougall
Dáibhidh, rí AlbaDavid I, King of Scotland[15]
Iarla LeamhnaEarl of LennoxThe ancestry of Duncan, Earl of Lennox.
Lulach, rí AlbaLulach, king of Scotland
Mac an Aba Uaine
Mac an TóisighMackintosh, Clan Chattan
Mac Aoidh UgadailMacKay of Ugadale
Mac Beathadh, rí AlbaMacbeth, king of Scotland
Mac CainnighMackenzie
Mac DhomhnaillMacdonald
Mac DhubhghaillMacdougall
Mac DhuibhshitheMacfie
Mac EichthighearnaMacEacharn
Mac FhinnghuineMackinnon
Mac Gabharáin EarcaMacLennan
Mac Ghille Anfaigh, faic Camshron
Mac Ghille Eadhráin
Mac GhilleoinMaclean
Mac Gille AinnriasGillanders
Mac GriogairMacGregor
Mac GuaireMacQuarrie
Mac Labhartaigh ?
Mac LachlainnMaclachlan
Mac LadhmainnLamont
Mac MathghamhnaMatheson
Mac MhaoileinMacMillan
Mac NeacailMacNeacail
Mac NeachtáinMacnaghten
Mac RuaidhríMacRuairi
Mac ShomhairleMacSorley of Monydrain

See also


  1. A detailed presentation and translation of the text of the genealogies has been published online by Máire and Ronnie Black, with the cooperation of the National Library of Scotland.
  2. "Manuscripts Collections". Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  3. "about the manuscript". Retrieved 2 February 2010.
  4. McLeod, Wilson (2004). Divided Gaels: Gaelic cultural identities in Scotland and Ireland, c.1200-c.1650 (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 76. ISBN 0-19-924722-6.
  5. "1467 manuscript". Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  6. Sellar, William David Hamilton (2001). "William Forbes Skene (1809–92): historian of Celtic Scotland" (pdf). Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. 131: 3–21.
  7. The Iona Club, ed. (1847). Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis: consisting of original papers and documents relating to the history of the highlands and islands of scotland. Edinburgh: Thomas G. Stevenson. pp. 8–11.
  8. Skene, William Forbes (1902). Macbain, Alexander (ed.). The Highlanders of Scotland. Stirling: Eneas Mackay. p. 175189.
  9. Mackinnon, Donald (1912). A Descriptive Catalogue of Gaelic Manuscripts in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, and elsewhere in Scotland. Edinburgh: William Brown. pp. 106–107.
  10. Skene, William Forbes (1902). Macbain, Alexander (ed.). The Highlanders of Scotland. Stirling: Eneas Mackay. p. 408.
  11. Eyre-Todd, George (1923). The Highland clans of Scotland; their history and traditions. New York: D. Appleton. p. xi.
  12. "map kindreds". Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  13. Campbell of Airds, Alastair (2000). A History of Clan Campbell: Volume 1, From Origins to Floden. Edinburgh: Polygon at Edinburgh. pp. Comparative Table of Genealogies, 6–7. ISBN 1-902930-17-7.
  14. Sellar, William David Hamilton (1971). "Family Origins in Cowal and Knapdale". Retrieved 4 February 2010.
  15. "kindred 1". Retrieved 3 February 2010.

Further reading

  • Mackechnie, John (1973). Catalogue of Gaelic manuscripts in selected libraries in Great Britain and Ireland. Boston, Mass: G.K. Hall.
  • Macgregor, M (2000a). "Genealogies of the Clans: Contributions to the Study of MS 1467". Innes Review (51): 131–46.
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