the WEEKLY SCOTMAN, Thursday, February 14, 1963
MACPHAILS by ALLAN DOUGLAS
of almost every Highland Clan have helped to establish "New Scotlands"
in various parts of the world. But no clansmen have traveled further afield
than the MacPhails.
We find them in Canada, where the first woman M.P. in Canadian history
was a MacPhail.
There are many in North Carolina U.S.A. where the name is spelled McFall,
McPhaul or Polson and where a clan gathering is held each October. They
are prominent in Nova Scotia, New Zealand and Australia; and in California,
U.S.A., the name appears in its original form, "Cattanach."
The name is a patronymic, "son of Paul." Like other Gaelic patronymics
such as MacNeill, MacDonald, MacInnes, MacKenzie, MacLeod and MacKinnon
- all of whom are derived from the names of clan heroes - the name deserves
to be properly spelled with a capital. One Paul Cattanach is believed
to be the progenitor of the family.
It was he who moved east from Lochaber into Badenoch at the same time
that Eva, daughter and sole heir of the chief of Clan Chattan, went eastward
to marry Angus, the 6th Mackintosh, about 1292.
to one historian, Paul Cattanach was the ancestor of Paul Gow, who is
described in the Mackintosh Kinrara manuscript as " good sir of Sir
Andrew MacPhail, the priest,"
Dr Jean Dunlop in her history of the Clan Mackintosh, said the marriage
of Eva and Angus laid the foundations of the historical Clan Chattan,
of which the MacPhails were traditionally "of the blood" or
Despite the fact that these Cattanachs " (as well as the Macphersons)
were original members of the federation, Sir Aeneas Mackintosh's writings
relegate the MacPhails to fourteenth position on the list of tribes which
took the protection of Mackintosh about 1500.
Earliest of the name on record was one Gilliesmore McPhale, who appeared
at an inquest in Inverness in 1414. Seventy-four years thereafter Niven
McPhaill was a charter witness at Sonnachan, Argyll; and in 1490 Donald
McPawle witnessed an indenture between Duncan Mackintosh, Captain of Clan
Chattan and Hugh Rose, Baron of Kilravock.
The ancestral home of MacPhails is Inverairnie, Inverness-shire. Here
the first chief of the clan was Gillies MacPhall, who married Margaret
Mackintosh. She bore him two sons John and Paul, and four daughters.
Gillies is on record in 1496 when David Dunbar of Dores accused him and
others of wrongfully occupying the lands of Dores "for the space
of one year."
After Gillies, the chiefs of Inverairnie are on record rather sketchily.
Mention is made of Donald MacDonald MacPhail in 1558; John Reoch McPhail
appears in the same year and in 1560 Sir John MacPhail is one of the procurators
in the Sheriff Court in Inverness.
Following the Reformation, MacPhails appear often as ecclesiastics, a
calling which continues until this day. Many of the clan in North America
and in Australia have been men "of the cloth,'' and in Scotland -
particularly in the Isle of Lewis-some of the leading ministers of the
Free Church bear the name.
MacPhails for a time were numerous in Lewis in the area of Carloway, particularly
in the vicinity of Callanish, site of the famed Druidical Standing Stones.
right to Inverairnie was gained by the MacPhails in 1631. For 1000 Scots,
Duncan MacPhail was granted a wadset and long tack of Inverairnie in May
of that year. The lands of Inverairnie face the River Nairn and lie within
the barony of Strathnairn in the Pariah of Daviot and Dunlichty.
The lands are watered by the River Airnie, which falls into the Nairn
adjoining Lower Inverairnie; and the property lies on high ground between
Strathnaim and Strathdearn. The Inverairnie estates also include the lands
of Duglass and Duletter in Strathdearn facing the River Findhorn and the
Paul MacPhail, probably a grandson of Duncan, appeared as chief. He married
as his first wife, Elspeth Shaw of Tordarroch who gave him two sons, Duncsn
and Roderick. His second wife was Jean Forbes, "niece to the laird
of Culloden" and by her he had a son, John, described in 1765 as
surveyor of the customs at Fort William.
Paul MacPhail was ' succeeded by his 'second, but eldest surviving son.
Robert, in 1721, This son died in 1743 and his heir was Alexander MacPhail
last of Inverairnie, who lost the estates reportedly through violence.
In his own words MacPhail claimed that Farquhar MacGillivray, without
having any special mandate, and whose superior was away in Georgia, "came
with a party of 12 men, armed with guns and staves, and upon the high
road attacked the petitioner (Alexander MacPhail) and by strong hand held
him about two hours in the snow, by force and violence without having
a captain or any warrant or messenger or office of the law with him."
As septs or tenants of the Clan Mackintosh, whose tartan they are entitled
to wear, the MacPhails took a part in the long history of rebellion involving
After Clan Chattan supporters were captured for their part in the Rising
of 1715, emigration became a welcome substitute for arrest or death. Some
MacPhails reportedly joined with the Mackintoshes who went to Darien,
Georgia, about 1735.
also followed the '45 - when one John Mcphail was among the "rebels"
who surrendered to the laird of Grant. This accounts for the appearance
of McFalls and McPhauls in North Carolina.
An early battle of the American War of Independence took place at McFall's
Miill (on Raft Swamp) in Hoke County, North Carolina. Near this site was
the Raft Swamp Church, now known as Antioch Presbyterian Church where
McFalls hold their annual reunion.
Certain MacPhails owe allegiance to the Camerons and to the MacKays in
Sutherland. "The Book of SutherIand" records a feud between
the MacPhaiIs and the Murrays.