Thursday, August 11, 2011

John M'Dowel, 12th Laird of Garthland (the Galloway MacDowalls)


Following up on the post below about Colonel David Boyd and Dean Castle in Kilmarnock, another one of Sir Hugh Montgomery's closest associates was John M'Dowel (he died in 1611). The M'Dowel / McDowall / MacDowell family seat was at Garthland, near Lochans in the Mull of Galloway, which they could trace back as far as 1295 having been granted a charter by Robert the Bruce's rival John Balliol. There were other branches of the M'Dowall family nearby at Logan and Freuch.

The family had a colourful history - for example the 'Ruthven Raid' plot in 1582 to kidnap young King James VI of Scotland involved Uchtred MacDowall (1526 - 1593) the 10th Laird of Garthland, but in 1584 MacDowall managed to get a royal pardon and secured a fresh charter for Garthland. Some sources say that he later came to Ulster and died over here.

Unlike Dean Castle, nothing survives of Garthland Castle today, but in 1875 'Handbook for Travellers in Scotland' recorded in 'Route 10: Dumfries to Portpatrick' that the road to the Mull of Galloway passed by 'Garthland Tower, once the seat of the M'Doualls, Lords of Galloway' (source here). Its location is marked on Bacon's New Survey Map of South Scotland (pub. c. 1880), shown on the scanned detail above, tucked down in the bottom corner. Other references say what was once a 45 foot high tower had been demolished in 1840. Nowadays the tower is gone, but nearby is a farm called Garthland Mains which is said to include the old datestone of 1274 which had once been part of the castle.

• The younger generation of Montgomerys and M'Dowels intermarried: Hugh's third son George Montgomery married John M'Dowel's daughter Grizel M'Dowel in 1633. The newlyweds settled at Ballylesson and also had land at Drumfad just south of Millisle on the Ards Peninsula.

• One of the first burgesses of Bangor, named in the town's Royal Charter of 18 March 1613, was Cothered McDougall. (Even thought the spelling is slightly different, this is probably the same man as the Uchtred McDowell who was Provost of Bangor in 1615; in 1617 Uchtred McDougall also received a grant of denization)

• A gravestone in Bangor Abbey graveyard bears the inscription 'Here lyeth ye body of Oughtred McConnell who lived in Bangor and died ye 11 of Sep 1702 aged 78 years.' Even though the spellings are different, this could well be another member of the same family. (click the photo below to enlarge).

• By the time that the rebellion of 1641 began, and the Scottish army was being mustered to sail to Ulster to protect the early Scottish settlements here, the Laird of Garthland was appointed as one of the 'Commissioners of Supply' and the War Committee included James M'Dowall 14th Laird of Garthland, as was Alexander M'Dowall of Logan and Uthred M'Dowall of Freugh. (source: Galloway and the Covenanters by A S Morton)

'[around 1650] MacDowall of Garthland followed the popular preachers Rutherford, Livingstone and Maclellan...' (source: A History of Dumfries and Galloway by Sir Herbert Maxwell, 1900). Livingstone and Maclellan had of course been two of the Eagle Wing ministers.

• in 1803 the M'Dowalls sold their estate at Garthland and relocated to Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire and named their new estate as Garthland.

And on and on it goes. There is a mountain of detailed information available on these early Ulster-Scots. Usually the challenge is knowing when to stop digging.


Philip Robinson said...

Another interesting discovery - getting a Bangor man with the name McDowell alias McDougall. These are indeed the same name (meaning 'son of the black foreigner', mac dubh gall), but I hadn't come across an individual using both forms before. The Gaelic name actually means the 'Madoles' were viking in origin! - As the 'black foreigners' were the Danes and the 'white foreigners' (Finn Gall) were the Norse. (as in Fingal's Cave and the area of Fingal near Dublin.

Unknown said...

Thank you for the article. I am of this lineage and found it very interesting. I came over last year and wished I had visited the ruins there.