CAMPBELLS OF SCALPAY HARRIS, SCOTLAND
I have written an abbreviated account of some of the information I have on the Campbells of Scalpay, Harris.
I don't know whether I have given you too much or too little information, feel free to tell me if you want it
edited. Donald Campbell was my x5 great grandfather, I am descended from the son that he left behind when he
emigrated in 1774.
Donald's wife Catherine MacDonald of Baleshare in North Uist also came from an interesting family and I would
be happy to write something on them if you would like me to. ... All the best, Sandra Kelsey United Kingdom
Posted May 08, 2009 by Myrtle Bridges
Donald "Domnhall Iain Oig" Campbell 1696 (or 1714) - 2nd June 1784, was born in Scalpay Harris, Scotland
and died in North Carolina He married Catherine MacDonald of Baleshare (Baile Sear) in 1722.
Children: Kenneth 1727 - 4 Sept 1807 was the oldest; followed by John who died in 1776 in the Battle
of Moore's Creek in North Carolina; Anna died 1768. Bardess of a lament on the death of her love, still
sung today; Barbara who died in 1785; Malcolm; Christian; Margaret; Isobel; Janet; Mary and Alexander.
Donald was tacksman of Scalpay at least between the death of his father ( before 1746 ) and 1771.
He was the hereditary tenant of Scalpay and there were, in addition, 6 or 7 families of his farm
servants on the island. Although the tack was named Scalpay, which is a relatively small island
off Harris, it included The Forest of Harris which comprised virtually all the land of North Harris
up to the boundary (march) with Lewis. Martin Martin described it in 1695. "There are abundance
of deer in the hills and mountains here, commonly called the forest; which is eighteen miles in length
from east to west: the number of deer in this place computed to be about 2,000; and there is none permitted
to hunt there without a licence from the steward to the forester." Donald was primarily a farmer but
he also pioneered the fishing industry in Harris. Along with his son-in law Alexander MacLeod, Tacksman
of Pabbay and St Kilda, (who was married to his daughter Barbara) he is recorded as purchasing at least
one "yole" (fishing yawl).
Donald is best remembered for his involvement in the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1746. Donald's
wife was a Baleshare MacDonald, known to be a Jacobite sympathiser. After the Battle of Culloden, the
Prince on arriving at the west Coast was piloted out to Benbecula and thence to Scalpay, to the home
of Donald and Catherine Campbell. Donald MacLeod, the Prince's pilot, was taking a risk going to Scalpay
because Donald Campbell was known not to be a Jacobite. Nevertheless Donald Campbell's innate sense of
hospitality to strangers meant that he welcomed and protected the Prince. The Reverend John Lane Buchanan
says "Even though it is well known that this gentleman was strictly loyal and well attached to the reigning
family, yet an enormous sum of thirty thousand pounds could not bribe him
A local worthy the Reverend Aulay MacAulay arrived with a party of soldiers to take the Prince into custody,
Donald Campbell sent his son to warn the prince to hide and refused to give up the fugitive
Rev MacAulay's offer to share the reward! The Prince eventually went from Scalpay to Stornoway and back to
Scalpay again, but Donald had had to go into hiding because of his actions. The Prince is said to have been
disappointed at missing "his hospitable friend" to whom he "wished to pay his respects for the
remarkable civilities he had shown".
While the Prince was on Scalpay, he is said to have gone cod fishing with Donald's son Kenneth and helped push
a cow out of a bog. Freeing the cow spoilt the Prince's plaid and he exchanged it for clean dry clothes. The
plaid was divided up and pieces of it are to be seen in the Fort William Museum in Lochaber, in a private family
collection and in Stoneyhurst College in Lancashire.
Being a tenant farmer to the Clan Chiefs in the 1700s was an increasingly hard existence. Because of the
lifestyle the Chiefs had become accustomed to in the South of Scotland and in London, rents rose precipitously
in the mid and late 1700s. Many Tacksmen and their people were forced to look elsewhere, and Donald like others
decided to emigrate even though he was an old man. In 1774 he left Scalpay and travelled with his family and
some of his tenants to Liverpool to embark for the New World. His oldest son Kenneth went with him, but at
Liverpool he changed his mind and returned to Scalpay. Some say he never intended to go, simply encouraged his
father to leave so that he could take over the Tack. We will never know, but it clearly was a bitter parting.
When Donald died Kenneth was named as "my son at home"
left to decide how much of two unpaid
bills are his, and how much to send on to his siblings, assuming that the bills were ever paid!
Donald is listed in the Directory of Scots in the Carolinas 1680-1830 as Campbell Donald. Born c1714 in the
Island of Scalpay, near Skye Inverness-shire. Married Katherine McDonald. Emigrated from Scotland to North
Carolina in 1774. Father of John, Isobel, Christian, Barbara, Margaret and Alexander. Settled at Mclendon's
Creek, Cumberland County, NC. Planter. Died on 2 June 1784 (MRM) (1 1785 Cumb Co)
Donald's Father was John "Iain Og" Campbell The Forester of Harris. We do not have dates for him, but
he is recorded as Tacksman of Marwgae in 1680, in 1684 as Tacksman of Scalpa and Marige Harris and in 1698 as
Tacksman of Scalpaigh in Harris. He is again recorded in 1703.
Martin Martin wrote about the Forester of Harris' in 1695 describing his cure for a parasitic worm under the skin
and also his remedy for the common cold
. "John Campbell, Forester of Harris, makes use of a Singular
remedy for the Cold, he walks into the sea up to his middle with his Clothes on and immediately after goes to bed
with his wet Clothes , and then laying the bed Clothes over him, procures a sweat which removes the Distemper, and
this he told is his only remedy for all manner of Colds."
John Campbell was the subject of a waulking song, "Ceud Soraidh bhuam," -a hundred blessings from me,
over to Harris, to John Campbell my brown haired gallant. This song is three hundred years old but still sung!
In the Lewis / Harris Boundary Disputes in the early 1800s, a witness remembered that his father when a young
boy had been taken by John Campbell and a John Macaulay of Brenish to a place where the march was to be renewed
and performed the traditional rite so that the site of the boundary would be remembered
this involved both
adults whipping the boy and paying him handsomely for services rendered!
John's wife was a Mary MacLennan, probably daughter of John Maclennan Tacksman of Kirkibost in Bernera and son
of Rory Clerach. They had three children that I am aware of, Donald,(who emigrated to America), Angus and
Kenneth. Kenneth became the Tacksman of Aoidh on Taransay and was originally a schoolmaster. His daughter Anne
married Donald MacLeod of Swordale (Suardal) who was school master and smith at Dunvegan. From this marriage
sprang the MacLeod's of Fuinary, which included not only Dr Norman MacLeod, Caraid nan Gaidheal, but also Dr
Donald MacLeod who restored the Abbey at Iona and Dr George MacLeod the Founder of the Iona Community.
John Campbell's antecedents.
In the Harris Estate Papers John's patronymic is given as "Iain oig Mc ean vc innish"
John son of
John son of Aonghas. The Rev. Donald Campbell of Kilniver says that the Aonghas referred to here was the same
Angus mentioned in a contract of Fosterage of Norman MacLeod of Berneray in 1614. In the contract he is called
Angus son of the son of Kenneth. This latter Kenneth was Kenneth Campbell of Barbreck and Captain or Warden of
the Castle at Pabbay. If this identification (of the two Angus' being the same person) is correct then the Campbells
of Scalpay are descended from the Campbells of Barbreck in Argyll.
Captain Kenneth Campbell of Barbreck came to Harris as part of the bodyguard to Marie MacLeod of Dunvegan
around 1567-1570. Marie MacLeod was the only child of William MacLeod the 9th Chief of the MacLeods of Dunvegan
and Harris. He died without a male heir and as part of the negotiations over her inheritance she was married
to Duncan Campbell of Castle Swene, second son of Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck. She gave up her rights to her
inheritance to her Uncle and in exchange received some of the best land in Harris for her husband's followers.
Campbell of Barbreck was close kin to the Campbells of Auchinbreck and Kenneth Campbell of Barbreck was appointed
Warden or Constable of Pabbay Castle on Pabbay in the Sound of Harris. Looking at Pabbay now it seems rather an
unimportant place, but in the 16th century Pabbay was a fertile island with good agricultural land and sat right
in the centre of the Sound, controlling the sea lanes in that part of the Hebrides. Warden of the Castle there
was a prestigious appointment.
Prince Charles Edward Stewart's Sword
1784 Will of Donald Campbell of Scalpay
Index to Family Genealogies
Memorial of Donald Campbell of Cumberland County, NC
Cumberland County Homepage