Hector Og Maclean, 15th Clan Chief (c.1572 - c.1630)

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Birthplace: Skottland
Death: Died in Skottland
Occupation: Lord of Dowart, 15:e Clan Chief MacLean Scotland
Managed by: Richard Arthur Norton
Last Updated:

About Hector Og Maclean, 15th Clan Chief

Hector Óg Maclean (1583–1623) was the 15th Clan Chief of Clan Maclean in Scotland.

He was the son of Sir Lachlan Mor Maclean the 14th Clan Chief. The death of Sir Lachlan raised Young Hector, then twenty years of age, to the chieftainship of the clan. His first act was to retaliate against the MacDonalds for the death of his father and kinsmen in the Battle of Traigh Ghruinneart.

He obtained a commission of fire and sword against the MacDonalds of Islay, and summoned the Chief of the Clan Mackinnon, MacLeod of Dunvegan, and MacNeil of Barra to his assistance. The Chief of the Camerons of Lochiel joined this force with his clan. The united clans, fully equipped, proceeded to Islay. Sir James MacDonald, in anticipation of this movement on the part of the young Lord of Duard, mustered together the whole gathering of Islay and Kintyre, and prepared himself for a conflict which he had reason to believe would be of a sanguinary nature. The hostile parties met at a place called Benbigrie, and as neither felt disposed to offer nor to accept terms, the result was an immediate battle. The followers of the Chief of Clan MacLean, upon this occasion, considerably outnumbered the MacDonalds; but Sir James MacDonald, well aware that he need hope for no reconciliation with his enraged kinsman, told his followers that in a resolute resistance alone existed any hope of safety to themselves or of protection to their homes. The MacDonalds, goaded to desperation by a knowledge of these facts, fought with uncontrollable fury, and it was not until the heights of Benbigrie were covered with their slain, and their chief carried off the field dangerously wounded, that their assailants succeeded in routing them. Overwhelmed by numbers the unfortunate MacDonalds were at length obliged to give way and fly in the utmost confusion, not knowing whither, neither mountain nor valley afforded them shelter from their victorious pursuers. A few, however, carrying with them their wounded chief, made their way to Kintyre, leaving Islay a prey to the ruthless invaders.

For three days the allied clans pursued the work of destruction with remorseless barbarity throughout the island. Every human habitation was burned to the ground; and the poor inhabitants were left to seek their only shelter in caves and clefts of rocks among the mountains, without fuel and without food. The career of the merciless victors only ceased when the work of destruction was complete. Lochiel had the satisfaction of taking Hector MacLean of Lochbuy, who aided the MacDonalds against his own chief, with several of his followers, prisoners of war, and detained them in chains for six months. Lochbuy, however, soon after had ample opportunity of being even with Lochiel. Of all the conflicts between these two clans, this, the last, was the most sanguinary and destructive. The MacLeans and their confederates no doubt felt themselves justified in executing signal vengeance upon their enemies, for the treachery displayed during the Battle of Traigh Ghruinneart, and the loss there of so distinguished a chief. They were also forced to make the destruction as complete as possible, for the conduct of Sir James MacDonald had made him popular with his clan, and his actions had met their approval. However deplorable may have been the loss of life, and the sufferings endured by the innocent and helpless, the result was to put a final and effectual end to the struggle between the contending clans. Ever after the Battle of Benbigrie the MacLeans and MacDonalds laid aside their animosities, and lived on the happiest terms of friendship and reciprocal good will. In the year 1599, James VI of Scots, finding the Royal Exchequer still in a depleted condition, again turned his eyes toward the Western Isles, and decided that the chiefs should be mulcted in a sufficient amount to meet his demands, so he appointed a new commission of lieutenandry over the whole Isles and Highlands of Inverness-shire, which was granted to the Ludovic Stewart, 2nd Duke of Lennox and George Gordon, 1st Marquess of Huntly, the latter having been recently restored to favor. Although the official document, which sets forth the reasons for the action of the king, gives a shocking picture of the Islesmen, yet this clause establishes the true import of the commission: "And besides all their other crimes, they rebelliously withhold from his Majesty a great part of the patrimony and proper rent of the crown, deprive the country of the benefit which might redound thereto, by the trade of fishing, and of other commodities which these bounds render." And now, at Jast, a great part of them have banded, conspired, and daily practice, by force and policy, in their barbarous and rebellious form, to disappoint his Majesty's service in the Lewis. As to the extent which this lieutenandry was acted upon is now uncertain. It is positive, however, that as a matter of justice, but little was due the crown from rents, and the amount demanded was beyond the ability of the chiefs to meet. In 1601, another commission of lieutenandry was granted to the same parties; the South of Argyleshire Isles included under the immediate charge of Lennox. These lieutenants were charged to assist certain colonists who would be better able greatly to augment the king's rents. Power was given them to use force and pursue the Islesmen with fire and sword. Rewards were offered these commissioners for the faithful performance of the duty assigned to them.

Acting upon his authority, the George Gordon, 1st Marquess of Huntly, who had charge of the northern districts, summoned a convention of estates, to meet at Stirling, Scotland within a given period, under a penalty of forfeiture against an absentee, but many of the northern chiefs, from the distance they had to travel, and the limited period allowed for their appearance, were unable to be in attendance on the day appointed. As Hector Og Maclean owned the lands of Garbhghambluch, in Lochaber, he started at once for Stirling. On arriving there, he met George Gordon, 1st Marquess of Huntly on the street early on the morning that his name was to be called. After George Gordon, 1st Marquess of Huntly had saluted him, MacLean asked him if he thought he would have time to change his clothes before the roll would be called. Huntly answered he had plenty of time. On repairing to his lodging, Hector learned the convention was in session, and immediately hurried to the assembly, and on arriving there found his name had been called. On parting with Hector in the street, Huntly went direct to the convention, and determined at once to put in execution the threat he had uttered against Sir Lachlan Mor Maclean, on account of the latter's proposal to bring George Gordon, 1st Marquess of Huntly dead or alive, the night after the Battle of Glenlivat; so he ordered MacLean's name called at once, and as the latter was not present, Huntly immediately applied for the forfeit, procured it, and is still in the possession of it. All the friends and interest that Hector could make, or bring to bear on the king, were never able to reverse the sentence, as Huntly always made great opposition. Thus he felt himself amply revenged on the son of Sir Lachlan Mor Maclean.

Source: John Patterson MacLean (1889) A History of the Clan MacLean from Its First Settlement at Duard Castle, in the Isle of Mull, to the Present Period: Including a Genealogical Account of Some of the Principal Families Together with Their Heraldry, Legends, Superstitions, etc. Edited for Wikipedia by Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) and loaded here on September 30, 2009.