Sir Lachlan Maclean

17th Chief, 1st Baronet of Morvern, 13th Laird of Duart, MP

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  • Seventeenth Chief
  • Sir Lachlan Maclean, Bt
  • Member of parliament
  • 1 st Barronett. Created Baronet in 1631 by Charles I in 1631 which began a century of loyalty to the House of Stewart which was to result in the Macleans losing all their lands
  • Fought as a royalist under Montrose at the Battles of Inverlochy, Auldearn and Kilsyth.
  • Sir Lachlan joined Montrose and his Highland Army but when General Leslie invaded Mull in 1647, he was unable to hold Duart Castle against him.
  • Died 1649, 18 APR at Duart Castle
  • Became the seventeenth Maclean Chief in 1626 [A History p160]
  • Succeeded his brother, Hector Mór (sixteenth chief) [A History p160]
  • First Baronet [A History p160]
  • The clan had been at peace and were very loyal at the time Sir Lachlan became chief [A History p160]
  • Sir Lachlan’s first visit to court was in 1631. While there (on 03 SEP 1631) he was made a baronet of Nova Scotia by the title of ‘Sir Lachlan Maclean of Morvern’ with remainder to his heirs male whatsoever. Charles I’s reception made such an impact on Sir Lachlan that he never wavered in his allegiance to the king even when it became detrimental to his clan. [A History p163]
  • Sir Lachlan had the favor of King Charles I [A History p161] Charles I was ultimately beheaded as a tyrant, murderer, and enemy of the nation [A History p165]
  • Even Archibald Campbell, 8th Earl of Argyle and later Marquis of Argyle, could not challenge him militarily or at the court of Charles I. [A History p161] Campbell was a cunning and devious foe. Brown (author of History of the Highland Clans) said of Campbell, “There is nothing in his conduct which can be justified by the impartial historian. Duplicity, cunning, cowardice, and avarice, were his character traits. His zeal for religion and the covenant was a mere pretence to enable him to obtain that ascendency among the covenanters which he acquired, and his affected patriotism was regulated entirely by his personal interests.” [Highland Clans p93]
  • While Charles I was in Edinburgh in 1641, Archibald Campbell made a great show of declaring fealty while he was secretly plotting against Charles I. Sir Lachlan was the first Campbell approached, but was not persuaded to join Campbell’s plot; a decision that saved Maclean lands and title. Archibald Campbell, desperate to control the actions of the island chiefs, repeated attempted to reconcile, but Sir Lachlan declined all communication. Archibald Campbell determined that Sir Lachlan’s refusal would result in an attempt to thwart any uprising against Charles I, and thus focused his hostility on Sir Lachlan. [A History p165] Three years later, Archibald Campbell would openly become one Charles I’s most avowed enemies. [A History p166]
  • Sir Lachlan fought alongside Montrose’s forces for the crown at the Battle of Inverlochy. They arrived a day before the battle because Archibald Campbell’s forces prevented them from using roads in Argyle, so they had to march through the country. Montrose thanked Sir Lachlan. [A History p167]
  • Archibald Campbell fled the Battle of Inverlochy in a rowboat to his galley and watched the destruction of the 4,000 strong army he raised. [A History p167] Montrose had only 3 killed and a number wounded, while Campbell had 1,500 killed and over 1,000 taken prisoner. [A History p168]
  • Maclean and Sir Alexander MacDonald cleared the country of Argyle of any remaining enemy while Montrose resumed his march toward Inverness. The win at Inverlochy rallied the island chiefs and more joined Montrose. His forces reached 6,000. The Maclean forces rejoined Montrose after the Battle of Alford. [A History p168]
  • The Macleans laid waste to Campbell’s territory including the parishes of Muchort and Dollar; and burnt Castle Campbell in requital of similar actions by Campbell. [A History p169]
  • Lead Macleans at the Battle of Kilsyth - “Captain of Cairnburg” said Montross to Maclean of Treshnish, “in sending you upon this service, I feel it my duty to tell you that the post I assign you is of such importance as to require all your courage and tact to overcome your danger.” Maclean of Treshnish replied, “Danger! my lord, the more dangerous the more honorable: call it desperate, so is my resolution.” Seeing Maclean of Treshnish’s dire task and the bravery with which he pursued it, Sir Lachlan charged in to fight alongside him and his men striped to the shirt and followed. [A History p171]
  • After the uprising of the Covenanters, Archibald Campbell’s forces swept through Mull and seiged Duart Castle. Sir Lachlan’s son was captured while at an academy and Campbell threatened to kill the boy if Duart was not surrendered. Sir Lachlan’s position was defenseless and he surrendered Duart under the best conditions he could negotiate--conditions which were disregarded by Leslie under Campbell’s authority. [A History p175]
  • During the war, Sir Lachlan neglected to pay the public dues (taxes) he owed, expecting that his support of the crown would provide remunerations for arming and sustaining an army of more than 1,000 men to support Montrose. [A History p175]
  • Archibald Campbell finally found his chance to take his revenge for not supporting his uprising against Charles I. Campbell had long wanted the Maclean lands, and his devious plan to take them was vengeful. First, Campbell, purchased the all debts (public and private) of the Macleans, and found opportunities to trump up false debts where he could. In all Campbell levied a claim of £30,000 against Sir Lachlan. Second, Campbell brought collection proceedings against Sir Lachlan. Using the influence he exerted on the exchequer, Campbell was able to push the proceedings through before Sir Lachlan even knew Campbell had purchased his debts. Third, Campbell prevented Sir Lachlan from appealing the proceedings with the Committee of Estates in Edinburgh by issuing under his own authority a writ of attachment (arrest warrant) against Sir Lachlan. Sir Lachlan was arrested in Inverary on his way to Edinburgh and thrown into Campbell’s castle prison at Carrick for a year. Near death, and at the advice of his friends, Sir Lachlan signed the bond acknowledging the debt as Campbell prepared it on the condition that he would be released. Sir Lachlan returned to Duart and expired shortly thereafter. [A History p176]
  • Died on 18 APRIL 1648 [A History p176]
  • Married to Mary MacLeod [A History p176]
  • Had 3 daughters (Isabella, Mary, and Marian) and 2 sons (Hector and Allan) [A History p176]
Works Cited
Browne, James. A History of the Highlands and of the Highland Clans. Vol. II. London: A. Fullarton and, 1862. Print.
MacLean, J. P. A History of the Clan MacLean from Its First Settlement at Duard Castle, in the Isle of Mull, to the Present Period. Cincinnati: R. Clarke, 1889. Print.

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