The MacGregor Chiefs


Major Sir Malcolm MacGregor of MacGregor
7th Baronet, 24th Chief of Clan Gregor
(photo taken in 1996)

Q.  If the current Chief is the 24th – who then were the other 23?

A.  Well, this is not as easy a thing to determine as you might suppose. There have been many myths and false accounts written in the past making it difficult to sort out.

Many sources claim we are descended from Griogar, said to have been the third son of Alpin, King of Scotland, who commenced his reign in 833. Alternatively claims have been made for descent from his eldest brother, Kenneth MacAlpine, but these are both impossible to trace. According to Buchanan of Auchmar, the Clan Gregor were located in Glenorchy as early as the reign of Malcolm Canmore (1057-1093). Hugh of Glenorchy appears to have been the first of the Chiefs who was so styled. Before this the Clan system, as we know it, was not in place.

There were four principal Clan Gregor families descended from Gregor of the Golden Bridles. These were Glenstrae, Glencarnaig, Roro, and Glengyle. The Chiefs originally were of the Glenstrae branch which died out as a result of long persecution. Leadership then often switched from one to the other of the three remaining families.

Rob Roy MacGregor was never a Clan Chief but was considered a “Captain,” leading the Clan in battle, and was Tutor to Gregor Macgregor, otherwise called James Graham of Glengyle or Glùn Dubh (Black Knee), after his father died leaving him the Chiefship of the Glengyle branch when he was just 10 years old. In clanship a Captain would be appointed as a military leader when the Chief was a minor or otherwise unsuited for the role.

In 1714 Alexander Drummond (or MacGregor) of Balhaldie (Bohaldy), of the Roro line was elected was Chief. He was succeeded by his son, William before 1743. William was created a baronet in the Jacobite peerage by James the Old Pretender. William’s eldest son was Alexander born in 1758 and suceeded his father in 1765. The latter Alexander became a Captain in the 65th Regiment. In 1774, when the Act of Proscription against Clan Gregor was finally repealed, another election was organised and General John Murray Macgregor of Lanrick, descended from the Glencarnaig line, was acclaimed as the new Chief. He was elected while Alexander of Balhaldie was still alive and serving in the army in the West Indies. Alexander of Balhaldie raised an unsuccessful court action against Sir John Murray. [see note below by #18]
The current Chief is descended from the Glencarnaig line.

The following list is only an approximation and is subject to frequent revisions. Most of the dates are estimated. There are a series of obits up to Gregor (John Murray) no. 12 who died in 1629. Thereafter the succession passed to his brother Patrick Roy who was alive in 1651. The records are rather vague about the succession of the descendants of Ewin the tutor which ended with Kilmanan.

    1. Griogair of the Golden Bridles, b~1300; d~1360

    2. Eoin cam (Ian of the One-Eye), son of Griogair, .b~1325; obit.1390

    3. Eoin dubh, son of Eoin cam, b~1350; obit.1415

    4. Gille-coluim (Malcolm “the lame lord”), son of Eoin dubh, b~1375; obit.1440

    5. Padraig, son of Gille-coluim, b~1405; obit.1461

    6. Eoin dubh, son of Padraig, b~1440 obit.1519 (his son Maol-coluim dsp 1498)

    7. Eoin MacEoghan, gt-gt-gt-grandson of #3. Eoin dubh, b~1480; obit 1528

    8. Alasdair ruadh of Glenstrae (Allister Roy), son of Eoin MacEoghan, b~1515; obit 1547

    9. Eoin ruadh, son of Alasdair ruadh, b~1540; obit 1550

    10. Griogair ruadh of Glenstrae ‘The arrow of Glen Lyon’, brother of Eoin ruadh,
      b~1541; executed 1571

    11. Alasdair ruadh of Glenstrae, son of Griogair ruadh, b~ 1569; executed 1604

    12. Gregor, alias John Murray, nephew of Alasdair ruadh, b ~1599. last recorded 1639 (sold Glenstrae to Glenorchy in 1624)

    13. Patrick Roy, brother of Gregor, b~1600; d~1650s

    14. James, son of Patrick Roy d~ 1670s (?)

    15. Gregor, son of Malcolm, g-son of Ewin the tutor, d~ 1680s

    16. Archibald of Kilmanan, cousin of Gregor, d~ 1704

    17. Alexander MacGregor or Drummond of Balhaldie (Bohaldy) – Roro – elected in 1714, d.1743

    18. William Macgregor Drummond of Balhaldie succeeded his father 1743. d. ~1765

    19. [Alexander MacGregor Drummond of Balhaldie, b1758, succeeded 1765.]
      Alexander of Balhaldie was not elected and was living outside Scotland. Had he been more dynamic the opportunity for Sir John to campaign for the chiefship might not have arisen. There were also disputes about the seniority and right of the original Balhaldie in 1714. Alexander unsuccessfully sued Sir John Murray in 1795. Note the numbering suggests that Sir John Murray did not accept the succession of William in 1743.

    20. Sir John Murray (Macgregor) of Lanrick (Glencarnaig branch), elected chief in 1775. Baronetcy created in 1795

    21. Sir Evan John Macgregor 1785-1841, 2nd Baronet of Lanrick, founder of the Clan Gregor Society in 1822 Obtained royal license to resume the name MacGregor in 1822.

    22. Sir John Athole Bannatyne Macgregor of MacGregor, 3rd Baronet, 1810-1851

    23. Sir Malcolm Murray Macgregor of MacGregor, 4th Baronet, b.1834, d.1879

    24. Sir Malcolm MacGregor of MacGregor, RN, 5th Baronet. b.1873

    25. Brigadier Sir Gregor MacGregor of MacGregor, 6th Baronet. b.1925, d.2003

    26. Major Sir Malcolm MacGregor of MacGregor, 7th Baronet.


Note the switch from the Gaelic to the English form after Alasdair of Glenstrae. The clan after 1604 was a very different body from that which preceded it.

Developed with the assistance of Peter Lawrie, Clan Gregor Society.

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