People living in McGregor sometimes tend to forget that the name McGregor is that of one of the oldest and most honourable Scottish clans. I first heard of the McGregors through my late father, an RAF officer for the first half of his career (he went into IT in his mid-forties, which just goes to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks!).
In spite of being a 'mere' colonial, Dad was tipped for top brass, and was sent to British Army Staff College during the 1950's, as the RAF didn't have its own Staff College. The then head of the McGregor clan was on the course at the same time, and Dad was delighted by his full title, which he was Major The Right Honourable Gregor McGregor, the Gregor of McGregor! (Perhaps one of the folk from the Royal McGregor could confirm whether Dad got it right.)
When I first heard this story, of course, I found the name equally entrancing, but I had no idea at that stage that I would grow up to buy a house in a village called McGregor and spend several years living there.
But that's what happened.
At the moment, we McGregorites are focusing on the history of our village, as there is a SAHRA project under way to collect oral histories of the village and surrounds, and we at McGregorVillage.Co.Za thought it would be interesting to dig into the deeper history of the name as well. One of the first things we found out was that the famous Scots reiver, Rob Roy, was in fact a McGregor! We're very grateful to the owners of the Royal McGregor pub in Edinburgh (still run by McGregors) for allowing us to use this fascinating piece of history from their website, as well as the photo of Rob Roy's statue.
The MacGregors are one of the oldest and most famous clans in Scotland. Legend has it that they are descended from Grigor, one of the sons of Alpin, who was King of the Scots around 787A.D. Alpin was slain by the Picts but was the father of Kenneth MacAlpin who finally united the Scots and Picts under one King. The clan motto "Royal is my Race" comes from this connection.
The clan continued to thrive through the next seven or eight centuries although times were marked by political infighting and clan rivalries. One such incident in 1603 saw the MacGregors slaughter the Colquhouns although outnumbered two to one. This resulted in James VI (James I of England) outlawing the MacGregors that year.
Nevertheless, the MacGregors fought for Charles I during the civil war (1642-1646). Although the King was defeated and later beheaded in 1649, his son Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, who in turn restored the MacGregors' name and privileges for their loyalty.
Around this time Rob Roy MacGregor appears on the scene and was to become one of Scotland's most well known figures. Brigand, hero, blackmailer and inspired leader, many of his exploits became legendary. Rob also fought for James VIII (the old pretender) at the first Jacobite rising in 1715. Although the uprising failed, Rob continued to be a thorn in the flesh of English authority in Scotland until his death in 1734 at the age of 63. Rob was buried at the old cemetery at Balquhidder beside his wife and one of his sons.
The clan continued to fight for the Stuart cause and joined Bonnie Prince Charlie at the second Jacobite rebellion in 1745 against King George II. This was again unsuccessful and the MacGregors again experienced difficult times, remaining outside the law until 1774 when the proscription against the clan was finally lifted.