McSorley and other Lamonts of Monydrain, 1270-1873

Next to the chiefs the most ancient, most senior and most independent of the Lamonts were the McSorleys of Monydrain, just north of Loch Gilp, of which they were styled "barons" as early as the 16th century, probably because on a day they were the King's vassals. From their association with Glassary long before that date, and their being recognized as sib by Robert V in 1410, it seems certain enough that they were descended from Angus, son of Duncan, in connection with the grants to Paisley Abbey in the 13th century. This Angus it was confirmed in 1270 the charter of Kilfinan, Kilmory and Kilmun by his father and Sir Laumon I (his cousin German), saving the latters interest. But further, as if in the exercise of the rights of a sole proprietor, he then gave warrant for the taking of sasine by the monks in Kilmory, by Loch Gilp, which raises the presumption that by that date he and his had succeeded to that district as their share of the family patrimony.

In 1410, however, when the chief chartered his consanguineus Celestin, son of another Angus, in the adjacent Achahoish, these kinsmen were not patronymicked after Sir LAUMON, or after Duncan or Angus, but were called "MakSowirle," thus indicating an intervening eponymous ancestor of the name Sorley or Somerled. Now no such Somerled is known to record (though an Alexander McSommarli appearing hard by with a lion for his seal in 1355 was doubtless his son). For word of such eponymus one has to rely on the Gaelic genealogies such as that of 1467, which narrate the descent of a " C l an Sorley" from the Farquhar, son of Dunsleve, who was the father alike of Malcolm (Sir LAUMON'S father) and of Duncan (Angus's father). Now as the Celestin of 1410, the kinsman of Malcolm's heir, was styled McSorley, it seems plain enough that the Clan Sorley of the genealogies is but another name for the descendants of Duncan who setded in Glassary not far from the Ardcalmisaig named after that Callum or Malcolm. The accuracy of the pedigree of 1467 is strongly supported by the fact that its three latest generations are all vouched by record evidence as having succeeded one another as lairds in Achahoish and other lands. These are Donald, who is known between 1414 and 1451, his father the Celestin of 1410 (alias Gillespie), and Celestin's father the Angus called McSorley.

This last Angus's father is given in the same sources as Donald son of Somerled, but there is no charter evidence of this Donald's existence (although one assumes he was an elder brother of the Alexander McSommarli of 1355). The genealogies thus trace the line as Donald son of Celestin son of Angus son of Donald son of Somerled, and then proceed son of Farquhar son of Dunsleve. But there is plainly an omission of at least two generations between Somerled and Farquhar, as if Somerled's son was alive in 1355, Somerled himself can hardly have been earlier than c. 1300, while Farquhar, as shown above, cannot long have survived 1200. Such omissions are, of course, common features of early traditional pedigrees. It thus seems natural, indeed almost inevitable, that tradition and record should be reconciled by inserting between Somerled and Farquhar the Duncan who is kenned to have been a son of Farquhar and the Angus who is for certain a son of Duncan. The complete descent is thus (see next page) Donald son of Celestin son of Angus son of Donald son of Somerled son of Angus son of Duncan son of Farquhar, the whole of which is proved by record save for Somerled and his son Donald, for whom the Gaelic genealogies and the family patronymic seem ample warrant, confirmed by the number of Donalds in the pedigree in after years and the occasional Sorleys till the 17th century at least.3 Earlier chapters have set out the known facts as to Duncan and his son Angus (including the latter's homage to John Balliol in 1297), the traditional and eponymous Somerled and his son Donald i i , the Angus i i i called McSorley who was dead by 1410, and the Celestin iv his son chartered in that year by the chief and perhaps forced into the Harlaw campaign the year after. The charter, however, merits further attention. While disclosing that the lands had been Celestin's before, it is the earliest recognition of the Inveryne family's superiority, and has a clause of return to the granter and his heirs on the failure of the lawful heirs male of the grantee's body. The tenure is the favoured feu (for 5 merks or £3, 6s. 8d.) instead of the usual military service, the first example in the Lamont country. It is forbye one of the few old deeds i n which the detailed bounds of the lands are given. They are not now easy to trace, though it is clear that the western march was the burn of Auchinbreck, later a cadetship, and that on the south Kilmory was adjacent and salt water the limit. The nucleus was Achahoish (to-day an upland farm just north of Monydrain), to which were added four places now unknown, with Fernoch and Drum by the modern Lochgilphead, each of the first five being a penny land (in pre-old extent valuation), as were the two last together. One does not ken if the whole Monydrain lairdship, later a 12 merk land, was included, or if, as seems likely, part was held of the Crown direct upon an independent title. Certain it is, however, that the heirs male of Duncan and Angus laid no claim to Ardcalmisaig, the larger share of the old patrimony in Glassary, for in 143 3 Celestin, designed Gillespie Angus-son, was present at Kilfinan when Finlay of Ardlamont agreed to hold Ardcalmisaig of ROBERTV on certain conditions. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Duncan and Angus were the younger branch of the family of Farquhar, although in the grants to Paisley Abbey they seem to rank before Sir LAUMON , which was perhaps because the latter was a generation younger.

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