Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Lochaber no more - for MacDonald of Keppoch

In January I wrote up an account of a fascinating attempt by the modern chief of the MacDonalds of Keppoch to essentially argue for the return to him of the entire area of Lochaber, under the claim that the land had been stolen from the clan by the incoming process of feudal land tenure many hundreds of years ago (See Lochaber for the MacDonalds?). The 79 year old Keppoch chief argued that the land had been previously held by the clan through the tenure known as 'ur duthchas' - and he wanted it back! His petition has now been heard by the Scottish Parliament, and no doubt he will be unhappy to hear that it isn't on the cards for him. The Public Petitions Committee's deliberations on the claim are now available online at

Robin Harper pointed out that the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc (Scotland) Act 2000 had already dealt with it by declaring all land in Scotland, with the exception of the Northern Isles, to have been held under feudal tenure. Nigel Don disagreed and asked for an academic to examine the claims. John Wilson's response was that in fact a submission had been heard from Andy Wightman, who is one of the foremost authorities in the country on Scottish land tenure, who agreed that feudal tenure replaced ur duthchas in the 12th and 13th centuries. Everyone then basically agreed it would be a jolly good idea just to close the petition and to move on to some proper business...!

Quite what MacDonald had been planning to do with the land once he had gained control of it, I have no idea! Personally I am glad to see the back of his claim. I've always believed respect should be earned, and quite who he was expecting to get thanks from in Lochaber is perhaps a mystery for another day.

More importantly, I would now like to raise a petition to ask the Government not to ever send me out an overdue tax bill for 2 pence Sterling again (sent last week), which cost the price of a second class stamp to post in the first place! :)

(With thanks to Graham MacDonnell of the Great Glen Genealogical Research Centre in Inverness).

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