I am technically Scots-Irish, despite my family name (which is obviously Scottish). My father was Scottish and my mother was Irish. Sadly, they are both deceased. That aside, I am often asked about my second given name because of the "S." It is Shannon. Shannon means "wise river" and is an Irish name, anglicised from "Sionainn" in Gaelic. And, no, it is not a girl's name, which I was teased about as a kid at times. I was actually embarrassed about my second given name for a long time and now I am very proud of it. That's because once people learn this, they realize just what a unique name I have. Similarly, my sister's second given name in Erin, which is the anglicisation of Eirinn (again from Gaelic), meaning "Ireland." You may know this from the phrase "Eirinn go Braugh," meaning "Ireland forever." Needless to say, we obviously come from a very Scots-Irish family, which is actually rather cool. I love ethnic names. They give us identity. And my mother was not going to let her kids have only Scottish names. I suppose we come from a feisty part of the world. Not that any conflicts existed there. How many times has Scotland fought the English? How many times have the Irish? I suppose it's in our genes. When I think of my late parents, that is self-evident. They were passionate people. Maybe it is genetic.
That aside, the Scots and Irish are ethnically the same. I hardly need to prove this in my family because we all have bright blue eyes (a recessive gene) which, interestingly, sometimes makes people uncomfortable. You might know that the "evil eye" is blue, which strikes me as bizarre. Yet it is believed all around the world. At this point, mostly Celtic descendants (Aryans and Nordics too) have blue eyes and I find that gorgeous. Maybe uniqueness is evil, I suppose. I have literally had people tell me that they cannot look me in the eye because my eyes are "too intense." Whatever.
Getting back on topic, historically, Scots and Irish are all descendants of Picts (or Celts—we can argue about it) and both ethnicities speak Gaelic, though they can hardly understand each other. Frankly, I can't understand a Scot speaking English in Glasgow. If you haven't been there, trust me. It's incoherent. I listened to a Glaswegian comedian in Edinburgh at the Fringe Festival and couldn't understand a damn thing. So enough about that. If interested, keep reading.
And before I move on, if you haven't heard the Gaelic language, it is angelic. It reminds me of the language of the elves in "Lord of the Rings." If you don't believe me, listen to Karen Matheson (who has the voice of an angel), lead singer of Capercaillie. My favorite song is "Coisich A Ruin," or "Come on, my love."MacCorquodale, M'cCorquodale, MʿCorquodale, McCorquodale or McCorquodale?
The MacCorquodale family surname can be written in all of the manners shown above in the title of this section. In both Scottish and Irish Gaelic, the word Mac means son. Celtic names with the Mac affix originate from the patronymic naming system in which a surname is derived from that of the father or a paternal ancestor. All of the written names in the title of this section are correct and merely include contractions of the original surname, MacCorquodale. Specifically, the affix M'c is simply a contraction for the letter a. Similarly, writing the letter c in Mac as a superscript indicates the apostrophe without writing it, which is a common typsesetting technique (albeit outdated). Further, ac in Mac may be contracted as in M'Corquodale. Related to this topic, one may often find names written with the affix Mc alphabetized as though they were spelled with the affix Mac.
Interestingly there exist many incorrect legends that Mc refers to Irish families and Mac refers to Scottish families. This is simply not true. Nevertheless, even within my own family that legend has persisted so I too was a victim of this simple misunderstanding. Given some of the research I have done, below I will report some family history verbatim while I will interject with additional information from my own personal experiences.MacCorquodale Family History
From a Scottish History Book from My Late Uncle
The MacCorquodale name is often given as a sept of the MacLeod on no more evidence than that it is derived from son of Thorketill, or Torquil, the latter name being that of the progenitor of the MacLeods of Lewis. Such name is of Scandinavian origin meaning Cauldron of the Thunder Spirit and undoubtedly would have spread wherever the maurauding Norsemen stamped their influence. The traditional account of the MacCorquodales makes them of more ancient origin than the MacLeods, for the lands of Fionnt Eilean comprised, at one time, the northern shore of Loch Awe from Avich to Ard-an-aiseig, and such are said to have been granted to another Torquil, progenitor of the MacCorquodales, by King Kenneth MacAlpin. There is no evidence that this Torquil was of Clan Leod and the name MacCorquodale appears seldom, if ever, in the histories of that clan. It is evident by their Argyllshire habitat and title that the MacCorquodales are a distinct clan, whose chiefs were the Barons MacCorquodale of Phantelane (The White Island—Eilean-a-Bharain on Loch Tromlee). From their island castle they held Baronial power over the thousands of mountainuous acres which have been their domain since at least the 13th century. In 1428 Euan MacCorquodale and the chief of the Campbells were summoned to Court, with their charters in order that adjudication might be made in a land dispute with Scrymgeour, Constable of Dundee, who held the neighbouring lands of Glassary. Such was resolved when Euan's son, Malcolm, married the Constable's daughter in 1436. The Dean of Lismore's book of Gaelic poetry (collected 1514-1551) contains verses by Effric nighean Thorcaidill, poetess of the clan, and in 1542 the MacCorquodale lands were re-incorporated by royal charter as a free barony. In 1612, younger sons of the chief were charged by the Privy Council for consorting with proscribed MacGregors and the clan history and succession in the rest of that century is confused by two step brothers each contested the other's claim. The MacCorquodales supported the Campbells in the Civil Wars and "Colkitto" MacDonald sacked their island home in 1645. Since the death of the last Baron in the 18th century the chiefship has been uncertain.
My Personal Take-aways on the History Above
The passage above is written in a rather abstruse manner. Most family members, like myself, are interested in take-aways that are interesting and worth sharing with the next generation. My take-aways are as follows. The etymology of the MacCorquodale surname originates from the Scandinavian name Thorketill or Torquil, which originate from the phrase Thor's kettle. Thor is the Norse god of thunder. So the surname MacCorquodale is the anglicization of Gaelic MacThorketill. The ethnic history of MacCorquodale's is likely a mix of Norse and Celtic. Torquil was the forefather of the Leods of Lewis and historians have assumed that the MacCorquodales were a sept of the MacLeods. The MacCorquodales are a distinct clan and of a more ancient origin than clan MacLeod despte some debate about the topic. This is confirmed by the written history of the MacLeods and the fact that the MacCorquodale's held a castle in Argyllshire (modern information below). The family held Baronial power since the 13th century. From then there were some land and family disputes for centuries after that. Upon the death of the last Baron in the 18th century, chiefship has remained uncertain.
The MacCorquodale Castle
The MacCorquodale ruins on Loch Tromlee still exist today. Select the link at left to learn of a Scottish B&B that caters to visitors interested in the castle. I have visited here and it is breathtaking.
In modern times, the MacCorquodales are well-known through a marriage to the older sister of the late Princess Diana, Lady Elizabeth Sarah Lavinia McCorquodale.MacCorquodale Clan Symbols
Below are images of the MacCorquodale Clan symbols and related information. A few items are worth discussing. First, the clan crest badge is a symbol what may be worn by any member of the clan. The same is true for the tartan. However, the clan coat of arms belongs to the clan chief only and not the clansmen and clanswomen. To be clear, a coat of arms is assigned to an individual and not a family. However, and confusing things further, the clan badge is generally derived from the coat of arms of the clan chief as will be clear below. Further, the assignment of arms is governed by the laws of heraldry and these laws are still in practice today in Europe. Nevertheless, since the chiefship of many Scottish clans is unassigned, the last assigned coat of arms is often available on the internet. That is what is shown below.MacCorquodale Clan Crest Badge
MacCorquodale Clan Tartan
The MacCorquodale family tartan is shown at left.
A tartan is a specific woven pattern that signifies a
particular Scottish clan. The pattern is made with
alternating bands of colored threads woven as both
warp and weft at right angles to each other. The weft
is woven two over—two under the warp, advancing one thread each pass,
forming diagonal lines. The resulting blocks of colour repeat
vertically and horizontally in a distinctive pattern of squares
and lines known as a sett. One may encounter so-called ancient and modern
tartans. The difference is merely the darkness. Ancient tartans are lighter
and intended to reflect the natural plant dyes used centuries ago. Modern tartans are
darker and use modern dyes.
There is no official tartan registry. The closest thing to a formal registry is the Scottish Tartans Authority, a Scottish charity which is supported by the tartan weaving industry.
A coat of arms or armorial bearings (often just arms for short), in European tradition,
is a design belonging to a particular person and used by them in a wide
variety of ways. They were once used by knights to identify them apart from enemy soldiers.
Unlike seals and emblems, coats of arms have a formal description that is expressed as a blazon.
In the 21st century, coats of arms still continue to be in use.
The art of designing, displaying, describing, and recording arms is called heraldry. Scottish heraldry is
governed by the Court of Lord Lyon. The caveat in this description is that the coat of arms at left
is not for the entire family. It is the last assigned arms for the last chief of the MacCorquodale clan.
Specifically, the MacCorquodale clan is and an armigerous clan, a phrase which refers
to a Scottish clan, family or name which is registered with the Court of the Lord Lyon and once had
a chief who bore undifferenced arms, but does not have a chief currently recognised as such by Lyon Court.
Do you have good links to MacCorquodale family history? If so, email them to me and I will post them here.
The MacCorquodale Castle
A Scottish B&B that caters to visitors interested in the ruins of the MacCorquodale castle.
General Register Office for Scotland.
Official government source for Scottish genealogy, census and family research.
The Association of Scottish Genealogists and Researchers in Archives.