An opinion about the Origin of the Campbell Name.

An extract from the Montgomery Manuscripts (Rev. Geo Hill 1869). p443

" Some have been surnamed from a remarkable part of their face which has stuck to ye Posterity of ye Eminent Person who was first designed soe, as ye Campbells from one who had a wry mouth (for Campbell signifys soe much in ye high- Land Scottish speech) but of late Ages since ye ffamily of Argile grew great eminent and civillized; they have rejected ye surname of McAllen Moore and spell themselves Campbells as de campo belli; being more Honble than the former Asterick given them, but perhaps some of them may clear ye point to which I am a stranger."


The Campbells were anciently known as "Maccallums", being descended from a great grandson of Diarmuid O`Duibhne, an Irish chieftain , who married the daughter of a Dalridiac king, in Scotland, about the year 512. The chief or head of this clan was invariably known as 'Maccallum More. The clan name Campbell is popularly believed to have had its origin as the author states in the text; but modern senachies and genealogists of the Argyle family come forward with a more acceptable, if not a more correct, derivation.

Buchanan of Auchmar has the following account of this surname, which our author,no doubt, had heard in some shape or other,but to which he evidently attached little or no importance: - " Malcom O"Duin (a grandson of Diarmuid O`Duibhne) after his first lady`s death, went to France, and married the heiress of the Beauchamps, or as in Latin, Campus bello, being neice to the Duke of Normandy. By her he had two sons, Dionysius and Archibald,who, from the inheritance got with their mother, changed their surname from Oduin to Campbell. Dionysius, the eldest,continued in France, and was ancestor of a family, designed Campbell, in that Kingdom, of which family was Count Tallard, a mareschal of France, carried prisoner to England inb the reign of Queen Anne, and divers others of quality. The second brother came to Scotland, as some say, an officer in William duke of Normandy`s army, at his conquest of England, anno 1066. And coming to Argyleshire, married his cousin, Eva Oduin, daughter of Sir Paul Oduibhne (surnamed ansporran, `of the purse`` Knight of Lochow). She being heiress of Lochow, and he having retaines this surname of Campbell, as did his successors, the whole clan of O`Duibhne, in a small tract of time, in compliance with their chief,assumed that surname, as did many others in this kingdom upon the like occasion." [ Ancient Scottish Surnames pp31,32 Glasgow,1820]

The clan Campbell came to include many other smaller clans, who eventually assumed the leading name, although for a time retaining their own tribe names. " Many families and small tribes of Breadalbane in the sixteenth century renounced their natural heads, and took Glenurchy (Campbell) for their chief. Many more, in Argyle and the Isles,must have suffered a change from awe of Maccallummore." [Cosmo Innes on Scotch Surnames, p24]

This writer { Rev.Geo Hill } in his,Sketches of Early Scottish History, p 374, has referred to this fact as follows: - " We find famillies and small tribes choose Glenurchy for their chief, sometimes renouncing their natural head, yet retaining their own patronymical designations. These new subjects bound themselves not only to pay the allegiance of clansmen, but to give the `caulp of kenkynie` the Celtic equivalent for the Heriot of feudal customs; to visit the chief`s house with sufficient presents twice in the year;to serve in`hosting and hunting` ; and to be ready at all times `to ride and go` in their lordships affairs. The `kenkynie` was the kincogish of the Irish. so called from `Cin` - crime, debt, liability and `comhfogus` kindred or relations. By the ancient Irish or Brehon law, the tribe was collectively responsible for the crimes of any of its members. By statute llth Edward IV,c 4, this Irish custom of Kincogish was made law, the statute binding every head of every clan, and every representative of every family, to bring forward for punishment any member of that sept,or of that family, convicted of crime. This statute, which seems to have lain dormant from the time of its enactment, was put into force against the `Tories [in Ireland] after the Restoration. The ancient and distinguished family of Argyle has for many centuries exercised a great influence over the West Highlands and Isles of Scotland. Like so many other of the Scoto - Irish lords, this family owed much of its elevation to the gratitude of King Robert Bruce for faithful services rendered to him in his perilous career. Hence his extensive grants to Sir Neill Campbell of Lochawe,or Lochowe, from the lands forfeited by the MacDougalls of Lorn, the Comyns, and other leading supporters of the Balliol party. The marriage of Sir Neill with lady Mary sister of Robert Bruce, attached the Campbells still more closely to the dynasty established by the latter.

Early in the fifteenth century Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochawe was one of the wealthiest barons in Scotland. His grandson, Colin, created first Earl of Argyle, was chancellor of Scotland and acquired the entire lordship of Lorn. At the close of the previous century , the family of Argyle had commenced to supplant - sometimes by force, and not unfrequently by fraud - the great MacDonnell chiefs, and assisted by the forfeitures of James IV, the Maccallum Mores soon acquired an influence almost as great as ever had been enjoyed by the Lords of the Isles. [ Gregory, Highlands and Isles of Scotland, p84 ]

The first to assume the name Campbell was the 13th Century clan chief,Gillespic or Archibald O`Duibhe for whom there is record of Gillespic Cambel in 1263.

The chiefly house, the Campbells of Argyll, despite leading the Covenanters against Charles I; despite their support for Cromwell (which cost the 8th Earl, later lst Marquis, of Argyll his head at the Restoration) and despite coming out for the Monmouth rebellion , they grew in power throughout the 17th Century at the expense of the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles.

The 9th Earl, also Archibald, was for a time a royalist supporter and member of the Scottish Privy Council responsible for enforcing the law against the Presbyterian dissenters - the Covenanters. In 1685 he made an unsuccessful attempt at rebellion against the succession of the Catholic James II. He failed to gather popular support, was captured and followed his illustrious father to the `Maiden` - the Scottish guillotine, and was beheaded in Edinburgh on 30 June 1685.

The 10th Earl was created the lst Duke in 1701 and his titles give the best illustration of the extent of clan territory at the time " Duke of Argyll, Marquis of Kintyre and Lorn, Earl Campbell and Cowal, Viscount Lochow and Glenlya, Lord Inverary, Mull, Morvern and Tiree."

From 1701 they were avid supporters of the English Crown and led the government forces against the Jacobites in the 1715 and 1745 rebellions. It was under government order that Robert Campbell of Glenlyon in Perthshire, carried out the massacre of the the Clan Iain Abrach Macdonalds of Glencoe in Argyllshire which gave rise to the famous feud.

There is no doubt that most of the Ulster Campbells are of this connection or descend from a branch of the clan, the Galloway MacCampbells, some of whom settled in Co. Down.

The Rev. Alexander Campbell, 1786 - 1866, was born near Ballymena, Co. Antrim and emigrated to the USA in 1809. He formed his own religious sect, the Disciples of Christ, who were more often known as the " Campbellites", and by the time of his death, numbered close upon half a million members.


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