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MacKintosh/McIntosh of Glenurquhart (September 2012 update)


There were about a dozen MACKINTOSH families living in Glenurquhart, Inverness, Scotland, and in the Parish of Urquhart and Glenmoriston in the 1700s. Various spellings of the name are used as is common for Highland names. The name is still familiar in the Glen so some may have remained in the glen for centuries. Some emigrated to the USA and Canada or other parts of Scotland in the 1700s and in the 1800s Australia and New Zealand were favoured.

A yDNA study has been undertaken of men who descend from MacKintosh families living in Urquhart and Glenmoriston parish in the 1700 and 1800s, most of whom have since migrated from the Glen. In some cases there is no certainty that the ancestor actually came from Glenurquhart. Two haplogroups were found R1a1a and R1b1a2. What distinguishes these two groups? When we look at the surname matches for our own tests, we find similar Highland surnames in each group. This is probably typical of a highland clan with the members drawn from different origins. Some may have been blood relatives of the chief; some may have adopted the name as a sign of support for the chief. Some others may have adopted their patronymic name as a surname or some like MacKintoshs may have been a son of a Toiseach (clan captain or chief).

We do not have a record of a yDNA test from a Chief of MacKintosh but three of our project members (R1b1a2) have a tradition of being related to the Chief. Four of the group were found to be from the same ancestral line as the MacDonald Chiefs (R1a1a).

There is a wealth of information on genetic genealogy on the internet but be aware that as a developing science there are differences of opinion and information that has been found wanting.

The terms; haplogroup, haplotype and sub-clades crop up. My take for our project is that we have two haplogroups, R1a and R1b, and these are further differentiated into haplotypes and within haplotypes there are sub-clades defined by additional tests.

R1a1a MacKintoshs from Glenurquhart

Family 1
There is an article on R1a1a Highland clansmen. The origin of R1a1a members of the Glenurquhart MacKintoshs seems likely to be Scandanavian.

Four of project members are classified as R1a1ah. Collectively we descend in three family lines from an ancestor who lived before the time when a paper record of family events was kept. An estimation was made from the yDNA test data that the common ancestor of these three Glenurquhart MacKintosh families lived about 1660. If that is ± 100yrs (my guess), then he could have been alive close to when parish records are available for Glenurquhart or perhaps a couple of centuries earlier.

The sub-clade for these families is L176.1 positive. There is an opinion that R1a1a haplotypes in Britain would be of Viking origin but the point was made to me that there are three groups in this young Scandanavian Scottish line and that the common ancestor pre-dates the Viking era. The oldest branch of these three groups is the lowland branch which seems to make it distinct from the Viking Gallic communities that established in the western Isles of Scotland. There is a caution here about jumping to conclusions as to the ancestral origins.

Family 2
John McIntosh of Bedford, New Hampshire, was a Scottish soldier in the 78th British regiment who was posted with his regiment to America and fought in Canada culminating with the battle for Quebec.

In 1983, Walter H McIntosh, published a record of the descendents of John McIntosh. Two project participants descend in different lines from two of John McIntoshs sons. Walter speculated on who the parents of John McIntosh might be. He thought that a Glenurquhart couple, William MacKintosh and Ann McDonald, were Johns parents and that he was baptised on April 21, 1740. The yDNA study has not linked Johns descendents to other Glenurquhart families but it has thrown up another wild card ie another R1a1a haplotype. Although not linked to other Glenurquhart families there is nothing to say that Walters conclusion was wrong.

In the R1a1a and subclades project, this haplotype is described as of Scandanavian branch, sub-branch II descent. This is referred to as Old Scandanavian in older versions of the R1a1a and sub-clades project. They are not closely related to the other R1a1a members of the project group, who derive from the Young Scandanavian branch.

What this means for the ancestral origins of these families I hope to detail at a later date as I learn more on the subject. Please feel free to comment though.

R1b1a2 MacKintoshs from Glenurquhart

Family 3
The group are closely related and descend from Donald MacKintosh, who was born about 1757 in Badenoch and moved to Glenurquhart. One branch migrated to Australia in the 1850s.

Family tradition has it that the family had a claim to the Mackintosh chieftainship, possibly through the family of MacKintosh of Strone and Gask. Most commonly the chiefs of MacKintosh are said to descend from the Thanes of Fife. I assume that would make them Pictish in origin.

From what I have gathered, the pre-Roman inhabitants of Britain and Ireland are likely to have been predominantly of haplotype R1b1a2. The Highlanders (or Pictish tribes of northern Britain) resisted the Romans and maintained the integrity of their culture. When the Romans left Britain, the Germanic tribes who they brought over to garrison Hadrians wall, to keep the Caledonians at bay, expanded their territories to become the kingdom of Northumbria. The Northumbrians pushed up as far as Edinburgh. They would also have a significant proportion of the R1a1b2 haplotypes but I assume they would be distinct from the people of Highland origin. I think we can assume tentatively that the R1b1a2 members of our project in this family are of Pictish origin. It is not certain though and depends on the MacKintosh tradition that our chiefs descend from Thanes of Fife and that their position had not been ursurped by Norman, English or other nobility. Be cautious though, as this is only my opinion.

In human genetics, Haplogroup R1b is the most frequently occurring Y-chromosome haplogroup in Western Europe.
In south-eastern England the frequency of this clade is about 70%; in parts of the rest of north and western England, Spain, Portugal, Wales and Ireland, it is as high as 90%; and in parts of north-western Ireland it reaches 98%.

Family 4
A number of Glenurquhart MacKintoshs migrated to Nova Scotia. It has been difficult to track down living descendents of the original Glenurquhart migrants and there is no information to connect the MacIntosh men tested to a Glenurquhart ancestor at this time. However, all information has proved enlightening and worthwhile to the project.

I had some correspondence regarding this group, which is quite complicated and speculative. The implication is that this family group are representative of the Scots of Dalriada, who moved across from Ireland and established tribal groups, the Scotti, in west of what we now call Scotland but which would have been Pictish lands in those days. There is a lot of opinion on the internet regarding this, which I will leave for you to delve into, if you are interested.

Conclusion (to date)

I have written up our results as best I can at the moment as a work in progress. I have given my opinion in places and do not mean for you to accept this uncritically.

The four family groups in our study, by coincidence, seem to represent a microcosm of the Scottish Highlanders. This is based on the view that the Highlanders were originally Pictish tribes (mainly of R1b1a2 haplotype). Their culture developed by amalgamation with the Irish, Scotti (also of R1b1a2 haplotype) and Scandanavian settlers, perhaps including Vikings, (a proportion of these were of R1a1a haplotype) to the state where the Highland clans became recognized by the family names or patronymics of their chiefs. By this time the peoples had intermingled so that a clan, such as Mackintosh, contained loyal members derived from any of these cultural origins. As a small group we seem to derive from these separate cultural groups but are correctly identified as MacKintoshs. How we became MacKintoshs we may never know but it is my intention to continue the project to see what new information develops and what clarification we can add to the above. The origins are probably not as important to us as the family connections. The cultural origins are more interesting from a historical perspective.

Future endeavours

From the original article in FamilyTreeCircles there are still several families not represented in the project.
The family of Alexander (the Blacksmith) and Jean McIntosh, who migrated to Ballarat and then to St Arnaud, Victoria, Australia, although quite numerous, have proved difficult to track down. I suspect Alexander was my GGGrandfathers brother so I am keen to include the family.

We have not included a member of any of the Glenurquhart families who migrated to Nova Scotia, with certainty, but there are a number of leads to follow.

The project continues. It is my opinion that there may have only been two Mackintosh families in Glenurquhart in the 1700s and that the families we see in the parish registers branched from two original settlers. One we know migrated into the glen from Badenoch. The origin of the other remains to be found out.

Very few McIntoshs have had their yDNA tested. See the results of McIntosh DNA project. To draw conclusions a lot of DNA data is needed.

MacKintosh/McIntosh of Glenurquhart

There were about a dozen MACKINTOSH families living in Glenurquhart, Inverness, Scotland, and in the Parish of Urquhart and Glenmoriston in the 1700s. Various spellings of the name are used as is common for Highland names. The name is still familiar in the Glen so presumably some have remained in the glen for centuries. Some emigrated to the USA and Canada or other parts of Scotland in the 1700s and in the 1800s Australia and New Zealand were favoured.

Walter H MCINTOSH has written about an early Glenurquhart emigrant to the United States, "A record of the descendents of John McIntosh of Bedford, New Hampshire". A reference is found on this web site, John MCINTOSH, Bedford, New Hampshire, USA Walter MCINTOSH was the Clan MacKintosh of North America genealogist and passed away in 2002. Walter was a descendent of this family.

A number of MCINTOSH families emigrated from Glen Urquhart to Pictou. Some are shown as passengers on the Sarah.

Bryan Keddy, on his web page 'Scotland Glens' shows Robert MCINTOSH emigrating to Pictou, Nova Scotia, from Glenurquhart, in 1801. Nova Scotia Immigrants

At least three MCINTOSH families from Glenurquhart, Inverness, Scotland emigrated to Victoria, Australia.

Descendents of Donald MCINTOSH and Mary GRANT.
Family of William MCINTOSH and Fanny MCLEA.
William and Fanny's son Donald (Donald McINTOSH 1819-1890 & Mary GRANT (1818-1887)emigrated from Inverness-shire, Scotland; to "Cove" station, Lilimur,Hotspur & Digby, S-W Victoria, Australia. They are also recorded on this site Ballarat Geneaology.

Descendents of Alexander MCINTOSH (Blacksmith) and Jean (Jane) MCINTOSH Alex the Blacksmith. Alexander MCINTOSH (bc 1803) and his wife Jean (nee McIntosh) MCINTOSH, married 20 Nov 1828,Urquhart, INV, Scotland, emigrated with their children (Eliza, Ann, Duncan, Catherine, Archibald, Elspet, William, John, Isabella, James) to Victoria, Australia in 1852. Some of the places they settled; St Arnaud, Landsborough.

A third family
Alexander MCINTOSH Born 1822 Urquhart, Inv, Scotland. Died 18 Aug 1888,Buried Lancefield, Victoria, Australia. He was the son of Alexander MCINTOSH and Margaret GRANT and married Elizabeth CAMERON, (born c. 27 Nov 1834) on 22 Jul 1853 Urquhart. Their children were born in Essendon, Bulla, Springfield, Goldie and Kilmore, Victoria, Australia.

James MCINTOSH emigrated to New South Wales, Australia from Glenurquhart.

In 1962 W D MACKINTOSH, of 161 Ilam Rd, Fendalton, Christchurch, New Zealand, wrote to the Glenurquhart Bulletin reminiscing of the old Glenurquhart he remembered from 50 years before.

I am offering to pay for a 37 marker DNA test with FamilytreeDNA for a direct male descendent of these or any other Glenurquhart McIntosh/Mackintosh family. They were a distinct group of the clan in the 1700s and I would like to know more of their origin and if they were related.


William McIntosh (b 1796) from Glenurquhart, Inverness, Scotland

Glenurquhart and Glenmoriston are two glens running to the west from the northern shore of Loch Ness. These glens were Clan GRANT lands in the 1700s and among a population carrying a mix of clan names were a dozen or so MACKINTOSH families. A lot of the name spellings have defaulted to MCINTOSH, as my own has, so I will use that spelling.

The lairds of GRANT in these glens were subordinate to GRANT of GRANT, the Clan chief, whose lands were further south.

In the 1700s a number of the MCINTOSH families worked on the Balmacaan Estate in Glenurquhart. My GGGGrandparents, John MCINTOSH and Bessie CHISOLM, (married 1794) were one such family and also lived in the township of Lewiston, a model village set up by the 'good Sir James GRANT'. This occurred at a time when other lairds were clearing their lands of tenants with varying degrees of humanity.

John and Bessie's eldest son, William MCINTOSH,joined the Sutherland Highlanders (93rd Regiment)in 1813 and was posted to Newfoundland. A lot of Irish settled in Newfoundland and there was an anti-British undercurrent which may have been part of the reason for the garrison. As it turned out it was a lucky posting as the rest of the Regiment were returning from South Africa and were diverted to an attack on New Orleans in 1814, which cost them dearly in lives.

Subsequent to hostilities ceasing in the United States the regiment returned to Scotland and was then stationed in Ireland and the West Indies before returning to Scotland. In 1834 William left the regiment and took up a pension. His pension record has him moving about Argyll and Inverness until 1840 when he applied for and was given a position of Inspector in the newly formed Highland Police Force. William was stationed in Portree, Isle of Skye.

William lasted a year in the police force and here the paper trial runs out until the 1851 census. William is in Portree, with a wife Alexandrina (aged 33 born Portree) and a son John Duncan (aged 9 born Brown St, Glasgow). I have never found a record of a marriage or of John's birth. From John's later marriage his mother's name was found to be Alexandrina MACLEOD.

Why William went to Glasgow, I am not sure. Perhaps he was enticed into the Glasgow police force. The Glasgow police records are very scanty for the decade of the 1840s.

There is a record of an Alexandrina MACLEOD marrying a John CAMPBELL (private 93rd Regiment)in 1837 in Portree. The regiment went to Canada in 1838. It included 7 John CAMPBELLs. Some joined Canadian regiments, some disappeared from the muster sheets and I presume some returned eventually to Scotland. If this was my GGGrandmother then I assume that her husband John CAMPBELL died and she remarried William MCINTOSH.

Alexandrina's death was also unrecorded but was between 1851 and 1861. In 1861 William is in Tote, Snizort, Skye and married to Mary NICOLSON. John Duncan is with them aged 19.