Macbeth's Descent line.

Started by Sharon Doubell on Saturday, April 21, 2018
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Private User said:
Managers of Macbeth, King of Scots,
I am contacting you about this profile: Macbeth, King of Scots

The trees of Clan MacMillan and Clan MacLellan
trace back to Mac-Bethad (i.e. MacBeth).
If you agree and wish to merge the trees, please do so.

Charles Walton McLellan

cf Macbeth, King of Scots

Sharon Doubell said at 14/4/2018 at 6:35 PM

Macbeth has no known children in any contemporary Sources.

Pam Wilson (on hiatus) said

Charles, unfortunately, the "lineage " on the Clan MacMillan site is very slippery and unsourced. I can find absolutely no reference anywhere online to the "Farquhar og mac Mac-Bethad" (not even when searching various spellings of Ferquhar), which they appear to position as a son of MacBeth. More specific documentation is needed. Maybe they are implying this lineage in spirit rather than genetically? I'm scratching my head on that one.

Sir Michael Dave Barnes It's been a while since I've seen it. But I will do my best. It was found in an old document in Scotland by a researcher about 3 years or so ago.

Sharon Lee Doubell said:

What Pam said.

There have been lengthy and careful Discussions out in the open from the profile. Please consult these Discussions for what has already been said.

If REAL NEW PRIMARY SOURCES have been found for children of Macbeth that would be interesting to see.

Douglas Hamilton MacKinnon of Kyle said
The Chiefs of the Mackinnons, the MacGregors, and the Macquarries are directly descended in the male line from King Macbeth. This is recorded in the Irish Book of Ballymote (1390), and the Annals of Tigernach. This descent is also supported by Prof Graeme Mackenzie of University of the Highlands, Scotland, and Celtic researcher John Bannerman. Macbeth had a son named Ferchar "Og" by Queen Gruoch. When Ferchar's father Macbeth and half brother King Lulach (Queen Gruoch's son by her first husband) were both killed by Malcolm "Longneck", son of King Duncan within eight months, Ferchar fled to Ireland where he sought sanctuary. He married an Irish woman, and had a son named Murchertach. Ferchar died around 1085. Murchertach married and had a son named Airbertach, who returned to Argyll, Scotland during the reign of King Alexander I, a younger son of King Malcolm III (Malcolm Longneck). Airbertach was one of the leaders of the resistance against Norwegian rule of the Hebredes (1098- 1263). Dun Airbertach near Oban in Argyll is named after him. Airbertach married an dhad a son named Cormac. Cormac died ca 1175 leaving a large family of sons. One of these was Andras, ancestor of the MacGregors of Glen Orchy, Chiefs of Clan Gregor, another was Finguin of Griban, ancestor of the Chiefs of Clan Finguin (Mackinnon), and Guarrie, ancestor of the Macquarries of Ulva, Chiefs of clan Guarrie (Macquarrie).

My family the Mackinnons of Kyle is a branch of Finguin's family. My descent in the male line via Finguin from Macbeth is on The Mackay chiefs are descended from King Lulach via his daughter who married her cousin- who may have been a grandson of King Macbeth. We all carry the same Y-DNA signature which is the S744 DNA haplogroup.

Pam Wilson said:

Douglas, I appreciate your statements: "This is recorded in the Irish Book of Ballymote (1390), and the Annals of Tigernach. This descent is also supported by Prof Graeme Mackenzie of University of the Highlands, Scotland, and Celtic researcher John Bannerman." What we need is for you to provide that evidence to us, not just to tell us it exists. We need to include it on the profile and have specific bibliographic citations.

Douglas Hamilton MacKinnon of Kyle said

Hallo Pam and Sharon

I have attached the following:

1. Graeme Mackenzie's academic paper "Who was Cormac mc Airbertach" with sources,

2. Rev. Donald Mackinnon's listing of the Tigernach pedigree of Mackinnon chiefs (Finlaic, Mormaer of Moray down to Nial mc Gillebride, Chief of Clan Fionguin executed 1386)

3. Gerald Mckinnon's comparison of the Tigernach, MS1467 & Mc Firbis pedigrees;

4. Gerald Mckinnon's discussion of the Iona Mackinnon tombstone

5. Pedigree of the Chiefs of Clan Fionguin

6. Paternal descent of Douglas Mackinnon of Kyle


1. Graeme Mackenzie cites Duald M'Firbis as his principal Irish source. M'Firbis was an annalist who lived in the 15th century. He was used by the Lords of the Isles to obtain information about the pedigrees of the various chiefs who held estates within his realm. I personally prefer the Annals of Tigernach. Abbot Tigernach lived contemporaneously with Macbeth and Malcolm III "Longneck". The abbot lived another thirty years after Macbeth had been killed, so he would have known about any children and grandchildren Macbeth might have had. His work was continued by his family after his death in 1088. The Tigernach pedigree is the only medieval pedigree which takes the Mackinnon descent right back to Macbeth. The others take the descent back to Ferchar Og, Macbeth's son. Gerald Mckinnon makes Ferchar Og a grandson of King Ferchar II "Fada", king of Dal-Riada, but the other pedigrees all make Ferchar Og a son of Macbeth, and father of Murchertach. The Tigernach pedigree has several generations missing between Finlaic, father of Macbeth, and King Ferchar "Fada". The Tigernach pedigree is intended to show abreviated descent from King Ferchar "Fada"

2. Graeme Mackenzie describes a group of eleven families who claimed descent from Cormac mc Airbertach, great-great grandson of Macbeth. However only about three or four of these families can reliably claim reliable descent from Macbeth.

3. Rev. Donald Mackinnon mistakes Fergus , Lord of Lorne for Fergus II, king of Dal-Riada. Fergus, Lord of Lorne is the correct identity of the Fergus given in the Tigernach pedigree. He was a representative of the Cinel Latharna, the Loarn line of the kings of Dal-Raida

4. My family has DNA "related" matches with the other families given in the Irish annals as descended from Macbeth. We also have DNA "related" matches with Sir Connor O'Brien, Prince of Thomond, Chief of the Dalcassians (O'Brien). He is directly descended from the Dalcassian king of Munster & High King of Ireland Connor II, who is the traditional ancestor of the kings of Dal-Riada via his younger son Coipre Riada.

5. Four names on the Iona Mackinnon tombstone match four names on the Irish Macbeth pedigrees.

6. I am trying to locate Dr. Jim Wilson's DNA family tree of the Dalriada family haplogroup (S744). I will email this to you when I can locate it.

7. The MS1467 and M'Firbis pedigrees take the MACQUARIE pedigree back to Macbeth and his father Findlaic, they take the Mackinnon pedigree back to Ferchar Og, son of Macbeth. The Tigernach pedigree takes the Mackinnon pedigree back to Fergus, Lord of Lorne, father of King Ferchar "Fada", ancestor of Finlaic, father of Macbeth, father of Ferchar Oig, etc. Tigernach was contemporary with Macbeth, Lulach, and Malcolm III, and his pedigrees are much more revealing than those of Duald M'Firbis, and MS1467 (Skene).

8. The Irish pedigrees traditionally trace King Macbeth back to King Ferchar II "Fada" ("the Tall") who was king of Dal-Riada from 673 to 694 (reigned jointly with Malduin from 673 to 688). Malduin was from the Cinel Gabran, while Ferchar "Fada" was from the Cinel Latharna. However this descent of Macbeth from the Cinel Latharna has in recent times been criticized by Scottish academics, most notably Alex Woolf, and recently Davit Broun- who believes that the pedigree of Macbeth was tacked onto that of King Ferchar Fada around the 11th century. Alex Woolf nevertheless claims that the princes of the Cinel Latharna moved up the Great Glen from Lorne in Argyll to take control of Moray. What I do know from the DNA results is that Macbeth and his descendants were descended from the Dalcassian kings of Munster in Southern Ireland- the traditional ancestors of the Scottish kings of Dal-Riada (see Dr. Thomas Cairney PhD: Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland). The Dalcasians monopolized the Irish High Kingship until Ireland was conquered by the Ua Neil (O'Neil) clan of Ulster who then monopolized the Irish high kingship from the 5th century till the 11th century, when kings from other Irish provincial kingdoms held the Irish high-kingship till 1175 when the Treaty of Windsor replaced the Irish high-kingship with the king of England who held the title "Lord of Ireland".

I hope this will be sufficient. I will update you when I receive any further information. I hope to write and publish a book on Macbeth's descendants, but I need to find the time and funding to do this.

Kind regards


Sharon said:

Hi Douglas

Thanks for the PDFs.

I'm not seeing new Sources here, though. These seem to be in agreement that the ancestral line for Airbertach is pretty dicey:
* "Bannerman's acceptance of this pedigree has not been endorsed by David Sellar or by the historians of the MacQuarries, R. W. Munro & Alan Macquarrie; and the arguments against it have been most forcefuJly set out by Ted Cowan in his examination of "The Historical Macbeth". Mackenzie
* "These genealogies are believed to be accurate as far back as Airbertaigh (circa 1150). Beyond that there is need of caution. " McKinnon

McKinnon makes it pretty clear that the clans had a political vested interest in altered genealogies at the time
MS.1467 is hundreds of years after Macbeth

Offhand, I'm not absolutely positive why modern historians like Alex Woolf in his 'From Pictland to Alba' prefer to use data from the Annals of Ulster to establish Findlaech (d1020) as the son of Ruaidri - but I think [I'd have to check] it's because specific events in both chronicles link Findlaech and Mael Brigte as brothers, and both as the sons of Ruaidri.

An argument for taking the genealogy in the Annals of Tighernac over the event data in both might be an interesting Discussion to have on Geni, but the doc you call 'the Iona MacKinnon tombstone' seems to give a different ancestry in addition.

Douglas said:

Hi Sharon

Without a body to extract DNA from, it is impossible to know whether our families are in fact descended from Macbeth. But current available evidence points in that direction. The Iona tombstone has the same names given in the Latin generic form that are in the pedigrees- there is no divergence between the names recorded on the tombstone and the Irish pedigrees.The pedigrees simply contain many more names than those inscribed on the tombstone. It was common place in medieval Ireland and Scotland to record and inscribe men's names in the Latin form- in fact the Picts had no Pictish written form at all which is why the Pictish language became extinct. Moreover the DNA evidence so far supports the pedigrees. I don't know why academics have such respect for the Annals of Ulster- I have never had much regard for them. These were written down centuries after the events they describe from other sources. The Annals of Tigernach were recorded contemporaneously with the people and events they describe. Bannerman examined the Mackinnon and Macquarrie pedigrees from Nial mc Gillebride back to Macbeth and found them to be chronologically reliable. He allocated thirty years intervals per generation. There is no reason why Macbeth would not have had children of his own. The idea that he was succeeded by his cousin (and stepson) Lulach because he had no children of his own is nonsense. Lulach was the heir-male of the Cinel Latharna, and he was the heir-general of the Siol Alpein (later line of the Cinel Gabran). Under Gaelic law Lulach was the rightful heir to the Throne when Malcolm II died without male heirs in 1034, and also when Duncan was killed in 1040. However Lulach was only a child when Duncan was killed. Under Gaelic Brehon law, a prince had to be at least seventeen years old to ascend the Throne. There was no provision for child monarchs in Brehon law- either in Ireland or Scotland. The Scottish Succession was governed by Irish Brehon law which replaced Pictish law when Cinnaed Mc Alpin of Dal-Riada merged the two monarchies in 847 (not 843). So the Scottish Throne was awarded by the Mormaers to the most senior surviving ADULT male of the royal house who was Macbeth. Macbeth had married Lulach's mother Gruoch who was the senior heiress of the Siol Alpein which had become extinct in the male line in 1034. The Latin chronicles describe Macbeth as "nepos Malcolmi" which indicates that he was a grandson of Malcolm II "the Destroyer". So Macbeth likely had his own right to the Throne. When he was killed in 1057, Lulach took his rightful place on the Throne regardless of whether Macbeth had children or not. There is some evidence to suggest that Macbeth may have abdicated in favour of Lulach to secure the succession at a time of crisis and was only killed sometime after Lulach had been enthroned. Macbeth could have had children by Gruoch or by a previous wife. I am inclined to the opinion that Queen Gruoch made Lulach's succession (over his own children) a condition of her marriage to Macbeth. I may be wrong about this.

My only family has a Y12 DNA marker match with Sir Connor O'Brien, Prince of Thomond, Chief of the O'Briens, who is directly descended from the Dalcassian Kings of Thomond, and through them from the Dalcassian Kings of Munster. The kingship of Munster alternated between the Dalcassian (Thomond) and Eoghanachta (Desmond) lineages. The traditional pedigrees trace the Scottish kings of Dal-Riada back to the Dalcassian Kings of Munster. Dr. Thomas Cairney, PhD, writes extensively on the origins of these ancient lineages in his book "Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland: An Ethnography of the Gael A.D. 500 - 1750". I am amazed how little Scottish academics like Alex Woolf et al know about the ancient origins of these Irish-Scottish lineages. He doesn't seem to know much about the DNA relationships between these families either. Jim Wilson is a specialist in the DNA relationships between all these families. I wonder if Alex Woolf knows that the British royal houses of Windsor, Hanover, Stuart, and Dal-Riada, are all related through the MALE line? We all know about their female line descent, but these dynasties also share a common MALE line ancestor who lived around five hundred years before Rabbi Yeshua (Jesus). Most of these dynasties belong to the L21 DNA haplogroup. The Stuart and Dal-Riada families are more closely related than the Hanover and Windsor( Wettin) families, but they ALL share a common male line ancestor in the Biblical era. This relationship shows up in the DNA results.

Kind regards

Sharon said

Hi Douglas

I'm not expert enough to debate the relative validities of AT and AU with Medieval Historians, but I'll start a Geni Discussion for you if you like. Remember, though, that the event data being used is coming from BOTH Annals. So, imo, AT is likely discounted because it's contradicting itself.

Nothing you are giving me is enough to create a specific child descent line for Macbeth. Historical validity is important. We're not debating the likelihood of his having children; but the validity of the claimants you are putting forward as his children.

(Sidepoint - everything points to Gruoch's claim to mother the heir to the Overking? throne (of whatever size kingdom Scotland was at the time) being stronger than Macbeth's, and the reason, perhaps, that Macbeth marries her. She would not have had to insist that her son become heir - he was automatically. Macbeth's behaviours can be interpreted as indicating this. This topic is not germane, but I love it :-))

While being a strong supporter of DNA genealogy myself (I see you haven't uploaded your DNA or your full tree to Geni yet); and having paper descent lines myself from the British and European royal families (Geni does that for you :-)) - I do, nevertheless know that my DNA results cannot prove that claim so many generations back - even with historically provable royals being tested today.
Statistically, Western Europeans are all descended from Charlemagne because there were fewer people alive at the time of his death than we have grandparents. Some version of this Pedigree Collapse statistic is going to apply to the DNA claims of all Scots descendants too. We are not going to be able to prove that Macbeth had a child by using the DNA of the clans - even the Y-DNA). The descendants of the men of Moray, Strathearn, Gowrie, Angus and Fife will be irrevocably intermixed unless you have a paper genealogy trail that gives you direct provable certainties for every descending generation. We don't.

That being said, the DNA of the clans is absolutely fascinating, and I'd love to read what is being done.
I'll start a Geni Discussion for you to participate in.

I have said what I needed to say. You have your opinion, I have mine, lets just leave it at that. Nothing further to discuss really.

Looks like he went away mad.

Something everyone researching the Macbeth line should beware of is that Macbeth was a very popular king in his time, and a number of people named sons for him. In the next generation there were several "mac Macbeths" who were, as far as the records can show, sons of the sons *named for* the king.

Also looks like this thread has been cut to blue blazes, making it hard to follow in places.

Yes. Academic debate isn't something everyone wants to engage in, apparently.
What is missing here are the PDF links Douglas emailed us and which we spent a couple of hours going through. All for nothing - it appears.

I'm struck by the issue of Irish Annals and Which is Better.

Douglas writes:
> I don't know why academics have such respect for the Annals of Ulster- I have never had much regard for them. These were written down centuries after the events they describe from other sources. The Annals of Tigernach were recorded contemporaneously with the people and events they describe.

Well, no.

Both manuscripts -- or in the case of the Annals of Tigernach, two manuscripts itself -- are copies of earlier chronicles. One reason that scholars prefer the Annals of Ulster is that it is an extraordinarily full manuscript. The Annals of Tigernach are fragmentary.

The piece of the Tigernach compilation relevant here is MS Rawlinson 488, held at the Bodleian in Oxford. It was written down in the 14th century. (It is named after Tigernach, the abbot of Clonmacnoise, who was traditionally believed to have compiled the entries before 1088, but this is now known not to be true.)

The Annals of Ulster (Trinity College MS 1282, in Dublin) are the work of one scribe up until 1498, though they continue until 1540; the manuscript at Trinity College is the original of that compilation, and is unusually full, though some pieces are missing. There is a 16th C copy held at the Bodleian (MS Rawlinson B 489) which fills out some of the missing fragments from the original text.

the earliest pieces of both the Annals of Ulster and the Annals of Tigernach come from the same lost earlier text.

At any rate, it's not true that the Annals of Tigernach were written down, as we have them, at the time the events happened. Like the Annals of Ulster, they are a copy of now lost earlier annals.

That the Annals of Ulster are more complete does not mean that they are more reliable for any given piece, though. One reason that the Annals of Ulster are more convincing has to do with language.

The annals of Tigernach are written in Latin and Early Modern Irish. The annals of Ulster are written in Latin, Old Irish, Middle Irish, and Early Modern Irish. Besides giving a view into the changes in the language, this means that they are a better copy; the scribes of the Annals of Tigernach were translating as they went.

Now that is extremely useful to know, Anne. I certainly didn't.

Manuscript study. Thanks to Berkeley. So though I don't necessarily know this stuff off the top of my head, I know how to read the catalog entries and various supporting documents.

And it made no sense to me that if we actually had Annals existing in manuscripts that were written at the time things happened, that they wouldn't be the preferred source.

So, it's not surprising to me that they are also a copy.

The language alone would be a clear clue, even if one couldn't date the manuscripts.

For reference - one of the PDFS Douglas sent to me. A nice description of the political pressure relating to highland genealogies.

"Highland genealogies were not static things that remained unchanged through the ages. They were regarded by the clans as important tools which could be used for political or territorial ends. The genealogies we now have were developed over
several hundred years. It is thought that there were three major changes to the highland genealogies:

1. That they were altered to reflect the legendary history of Scotland

2. During the 1300's the Irish sennachies gained status in the western highlands and as they had the more ancient records, their influence was easily felt in a society which had few written records and which valued antiquity.

3. After the fall of the Lordship of the Isles in 1493, the Scottish Kings attempted to make their authority felt among the islanders by the imposition of the feudal manner of land holding. Many clans were compelled to defend their lands and status upon grounds which would stand up in a feudal Heralds Court."

Geral McKinnon - 'Genealoy of the clan'

Anne, I've used references to Macbeth's family from both (in translation :-)), so it's good to have that background.
Of the few events in the family of Macbeth that we know, the two seem to dovetail - except for the AT genealogy (reproduced in link above), in which the AT contradicts itself and the AU.

Something else to note: the association of a specific clan and a specific tartan was a *very late* development, and at least partially the work of a couple of clever forgers (John Carter Allen and Charles Manning Allen, who called themselves John Sobieski Stuart and Charles Edward Stuart respectively). Their "Vestiarium Scoticum" was published in 1842., also check References

The ever-popular "Great Kilt" is not what Scotsmen wore in the Middle Ages - it seems to have developed circa the 16th century (the modern, tailored "small kilt" is an even later development, circa the 18th century).

Scotsmen of Macbeth's time would have worn pretty much what everybody else did: tunic and trousers, with a wide square or rectangular cloak (which in Scotland was generally - but not always - woven in a plaid pattern). Whether they adhered to the traditional Irish rules about who could wear how many colors in their clothing (seven for the king, six for the queen, five for nobles, four for commoners, and so on down to slaves, who were limited to just one) is unknown. (It is also uncertain whether this applied specifically to the cloak, or to all garments altogether.)

What Scots women wore is rather less certain, but is likely to have followed Continental fashion trends (France was already beginning to be the trend-setter, but was not without rivals in Italy and elsewhere).

So when you think of Macbeth, please don't imagine him galumphing around in a kilt! :-D

Sharon Doubell, I'm leaving this one in yours and Anne's able hands. I'm glad you got all of Douglas's emails and attachments and studied them. It's really a shame he went off in a huff.

Lol - Maven. That's seriously anticlimactic - I have been fond of the image of the Romans in skirts reaching the Scots and just building a wall in order not to have to see under their kilts.

Yes Pam. It is a pity.

Don't ask what the *Romans* wore under *their* skirts! :-D

The Romans, like the Greeks, considered "braccae" (trousers) to be the mark of a barbarian. But in cold northern stations like Roman Britain, civilized pride gave way to practicality and the Romanized British wore "brbarian" braccae to keep their knees warm. :-D

Well, at least now I have more faith in their sense of self preservation.

Can I say hello Ladies? Being a kilt-wearing-Scot, L21, and all that, how is this McBeth theory coming along - as at February 2019?

Above is mentioned "Fergus, Lord of Lorne", who is he, can I have more detail so I can find him online? Also struggling to find "Cinel Latharna" ?

Loarn mac Eirc was a legendary king of Dál Riata who may have lived in the 5th century. He was buried on Iona.

The descendants of Loarn, the Cenél Loairn, controlled parts of northern Argyll around the Firth of Lorne, most probably centred in Lorne but perhaps including the islands of Mull and Colonsay, Morvern and Ardnamurchan. The boundary to the east was the Druim Alban mountain ridge that separated Dál Riata from Pictland. The chief places of the kingdom appears to have been at Dun Ollaigh, near Oban and Dunadd near Crinan.[2] The chief religious site may have been on Lismore, later the seat of the High Medieval bishop of Argyll. (also check references and sources)

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