John Dubh mac Gillemore

4th Chief

Known as “Black John,” Ian (John) Dubh was born c.1297 and became the fourth chief of the Clan Maclean during the reign of David II, King of Scots.1 John was the youngest son of Malcolm mac Giliosa.1 Oral tradition states that John possessed large tracts of land in Duart and Lochbuie,1 however only his possession of Ballachuan on the Isle of Seil can be substantiated today.3

Clearly John continued to nurture the alliance with the Bruces as he can be found at a royal stronghold on Sael (Seil)3 in Lorn, as well as appearing in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland in 1326.3

Though feudally subordinate to the Lords of the Isles1, John strengthened relations with another allies, the Clan Domhnall,3 when he married a daughter of Cumming,1 Lord of the Braes of Lochaber.1 John was honored when John of Lorn chose him to foster one of his sons; this demonstrates a uniquely high level of trust the MacDougalls had for John and the Macleans.3 John’s marriage and the trust of thee MacDougalls was the capstone of the clans rise to prominance3 and wouldn’t have been possible without to the cornerstone alliance with the Carricks achieved by his father’s marriage.3

John had three sons, and may have intended to for his two eldest to split the lands of Duart and Lochbuie.1 Eachann Reaganach, or Hector the Stern,1 is believed to be the eldest son3 and became the progenitor or the Macleans of Lochbuie.2 Lachlan Lùbanach, or Lachlan the Wiley1 (or Crafty4) is believed to be the second son3 and would succeed his father in the chiefship and became the progenitor of the Macleans of Duart2. John, the illegitimate third son3 is considered the progenitor of the mainland Macleans of Lorn, Ardgour and Morvern.4

The two eldest sons of John were considerable figures during the reigns of Robert II and Robert III.1 They appeared to be close and worked well together to expand the lands and position of their clan with the Lords of the Isles.1 The Lords of the Isles issued independent charters for the Duart and Lochbuie lands, effectively recognizing the two brothers as heads of independent clans. Despite this there no recorded dispute between Lachlan Lùbanach and Hector Reaganach regarding the chiefly line or independence of the the their houses; rather the two brothers were close and cooperated famously to expand their influence, land and prosperity.

John died during the reign of Robert II, probably prior to 1365.1 He was succeeded in the chiefship by his second son, Lachainn Lùbanach.1


  1. 1.  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. p36-39. Print.
  2. 2.  Seneachie. An Historical and Genealogical Account of the Clan Maclean. London: Smiht, Elder, and Co. Corrnhill, 1838. p221. Print.
  3. 3.  Maclean-Bristol, Nicholas. Warriors and Priests: The History of the Clan Maclean, 1300-1570. East Linton, East Lothian, Scotland: Tuckwell, 1995. p16-18. Print.
  4. 4.  White, Alasdair. “One Clan, Two Families.” Clan MacLean. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.

Article added 10 June, 2014;