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  1. Awesome and incredible undertaking. I found mention of an island “Reisa MacPhaidea” and was able to find it via your site. My interest is in the early MacPayden(various spellings)surname and families. Through DNA I have been able to tie our John Paden of Maryland to Padens in Coleraine and back to Ayrshire—they are associated with families that indicate Dál Riata ancestry. I am new to all this history But it seems all my Irish families turn out to be Ulster Scots…Just wanted to say thank you for what you have done.

  2. You are most welcome. I have ordered a copy of your Hebridean Traveller. 🙂 To date I have no proof that my Padens were descended from the MacFayden o McPhaddens but I am finding the history fascinating. Thank you again!

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi, your website is very very good, I’ve been doing family research on the Isle of Cumbrae and your findings have been exceptionally useful in helping me understand how the farming system would have worked.

    Some of the Great-Greats had tenancy of Penmachrie on Cuumbrae and I’ve found a mention of it in The Inquisitionum ad Capellam…(etc) where it says “2 mercatis terrarum de penmachrie, domo et horto, in insula de meikle Comrey. – E, 2 bollae hordei, &c, feudifermae.”

    I’ve interpreted this as the 2 merklands but I’m not sure about the “- E, 2 bollae hordei, &c, feudifermae.” bit? It seems to translate as 2 bolls of barley etc, feufarm, do you know is this the feus system of payment in grain?

    Any light you can shine on this would be greatly appreciated!

    • drixson says:

      Sarah, Apologies for delay but am involved in Election Campaign so may I come back to you later in May?
      I’ll need to look at my notes but the Retours are often confused about ‘Extent’.
      I think that over time the original concept was lost and these documents became very formulaic. Denis

    • drixson says:

      There are references to Penmachrie in RMS IV (378) 1549, RMS VI (317) 1595, RMS XI (950) 1666 & Retours (Bute) (60) 1658. It is given as part of a £10 (=15 merk) (Old Extent) estate along with the 3 Kirktouns and Breakach. It also appears in Argyll Sasines Vol II (1311) 1666 as Pammathrie.
      It is given as 2 merklands in Argyll Sasines Vol I (481) of 1673 and in Retours Bute (78) 1675 (which is the document you quote).
      In answer to your question I would not put too much weight on evidence from the Retours. They are strewn with anomalies and extent, rent & feu duties are difficult to disentangle. At the end of each entry you may find AE (=Old Extent), NE (=New Extent), or sometimes simply E (which I think suggests that nobody was any longer very sure of whether or not it was old or new)!
      I think when Old Extent was first imposed valuation and annual rent actually matched – i.e. a merkland returned an annual rent of 1 merk. Merkland valuations were presumably imposed after the first Scottish coinage (1130s). In Cumbrae they would probably have taken effect after the departure of the Norse (1263 x 1266). As the centuries rolled on rents began to diverge wildly from the system of extent. By the seventeenth century many of the details of the old system of extent may have been forgotten or eroded. Later documents copied (and miscopied) earlier ones and easily became garbled. However I am happy to follow Argyll Sasines Vol I (481) and assume it was a 2 merkland unit because the same document also gives the other 13m of Kirktoun & Breckoch.
      The interesting thing about Penmachrie as a name is the first element – which may be from the Gaelic word peighinn or penny. If so then this takes us back to the Norse land-assessment system which we also find in Arran and Bute.

  4. Jennifer Macarthur says:

    Hi, I am very happy to have found the townland of Strongarten
    , Argyll listed here and your site is a welcome break from my family tree. Very interesting for anyone with an interest in Scottish place names. Despite being Irish my Gaeilge is the bad side of poor, but I will try and improve it….in fact I only recently discovered my GG grandfather was a native speaker when he emigrated from Argyll to Sligo in the NW of Ireland in the 1850’s. Thanks for all the effort. JM

  5. Nancy Roberts says:

    Thanks so much for your site.
    I have been searching the family of McNeill of Argyll for a while. When I read histories of the supposed 2 McNeill families, it seems they are probably of one family. Trying to separate where they lived and who they were has been frustrating to say the least.

    I decided to take the tenant rolls from AIB Stewarts book and follow then in the rent rolls. In South Kintyre it starts in 1505. Bruce granted charters of Crown lands. The first listed is Neill Oge (may be a McNeill or not) in Kilmichyll,(assuming Kilmichael),Dunmor, Keylpoll. A Hector Mcan McGilliecallum (Stewart calls him Hector McNeill of Carskey son of Malcolm) in Machrecastel (Machricastel?) 8/4Mrkland, and a Sir Morice McNeil under Churchlands of Kilcolmkill in Killblane,Gillecallum McNeil 4 mkl. In Brumlamyl and Lochorodil (not found) and Gillecallum McNeil 4 mkl. In Brumlamyl and Lochorodil and 17mkl. In Killeonane (not found) with its pertinents. Suretys: the Earl of Argyll and Hector McNeil.

    The next mention of McNeil/McNeill is in 1541.

    In trying to connect these people I found John McNeil 6MrkL listed under Ballentoun, Archnancorvie, and Balabraid later Ballabreid, so thanks to you I have an idea where some of these places are. In 1541 I have Malcolm McNeill 12 Mks in Carsks, John 6 marks Ballantoun etc. , John Keir McNeill McRory in Drunlawhill, Lochordill (have not found where these are yet), Cory McNeill Mcilcallum 17 marks Kilowane (not found yet), Donald McAne dow McNeill 1 Mark in Aradill(not found), Donald McNeill and many others, 4 Mark in Mull of Kintyre, Ilkand, (not found), Malcolm 8 shil 4penny in Lepinbeg, (maybe found on your site), Malcolm Mcforsoun McNeill 4 mark in Kilquhattane, Dalnaauchleik, Crislauch , (if Christlach found) and Gilcallum Mcneill alias McPersone Killeblane 1 Mark land (addssuming Killblane)’

    In 1596 I found:
    Donald Makneill occupyar of ane merkland of the four merland of Ballemullingis, the uther twa merklnad therof waist.
    Page 21 Land of South Keantyre
    -Donald Dow M’Neill and his tenetis occuyaris of ten merkland thairof, and the remnant extending to five merkland waist
    Page 22-23
    -Gilliecallum M’Neill and his brother occupyar of uther twa merkland thairof, the rest waist (assuming lands mentioned
    above of Ronald Makalaster in Ballatonay, Auchnacorvie, and Ballabreid.
    -Hector McNeill alias M’illespie Vekachan occupyar of the four merklnad of Craig
    -Hector McNeill occupyar of five merkland of the tuell merkland of Carska, and the rest waist
    – Hector McNeill occupyar of the * viijs. Iijd. Land in Lepinbeg.
    All presence persois offer their dewefull opbeience to the said Sir William Stewart of Houstoun, Kaycht levetennte foirsaid in his majesties name, and faithfullie promesit to be ansuerabill to his Hienes lawis, and to observe kepe and fulfill the samin, ilkane for their awin pairtis respective as becummis dwtefull and obedient subjectis , and for the better keeping and observing Farquhar M’cay, Johne M’Gacharen and Hector M’Neill, thrie of the Chief of their clanis, faithfullie promittit band and obleist thame and ilkane of thame to gif and delyver their pledges for observatione of gude ordour and dew obedience to his Hienes amangis ilkane of their awin clanis respective, to Sir Williame lievtenent, forsaid,…..

    Page 25
    * viij Ballemulingis Eister and Vester merkland: quhairof be Donald M’Neill

    If you happen to come across any of the unknown places in your research, it would be great if you would send me an email and let me know where they are. I have been looking for a Hector Mcneill of Taynish, Knapdale in Dunre (not sure where it is, but he is the uncle of Malcolm McNeill of Carskey (if they are two families they intermarried earlier), so Dunre may be in Knapdale or in the area of Carskey. On your site you have Knapdale as a future project. If you happen upon a Dunre there please be so kind as to let me know.

    I realize how time consuming this type of research is, so I don’t expect a reply anytime soon. Just put my email address on a sticky note with Dunre on it. LOL If you ever come across it let me know. I am 63, so if it takes too long, hopefully my daughter will get the message and do something with it.

    Thanks for you time and attention,

    P.S. you site is great. Thanks again!

    • drixson says:

      Brumlamyl & Drunlawhill = Drumlemble (Kilkivan parish, S. Kintyre)
      Lochorodil & Lochordil = Lochorodale (Kilkivan parish, S. Kintyre)
      Killeonane & Kilowane = Killeonan (Kilkerran parish, S. Kintyre)
      Aradill probably = Errodil, S. Kintyre
      Crislauch = Christlach
      Ilkand is a puzzle but I wonder if it is for ‘ilkane’ (i.e. each one)
      Knapdale is listed on the site under Mainland/Argyll/
      Best wishes

  6. Nancy Roberts says:

    Thank you Denis
    I am almost done putting all the McNeills from 1505-1710 in Kintyre from the tenant and rent rolls. It was a daunting task. I have to just type it up. Will take me about a week. I am very willing to share all my stuff, I uses Ancestry to post stuff but it gets to only a few folks that way. I would be happy to email you the files when I am done, as I saw you were planning to add Surnames to your records. I also found a map online of Kintyre Cantyr from 1654 which helped me find some of the missing places. I would be happy to send it to you too.

    Your site may be a way for many others to get the informatiom they are looking for, without cost. What good is all this reasearch, if not to share with others.

    If you are interested please let me know. I am most sure my families McNeill came from the Taynish McNeill of North Knapdale. Since I have been unable to find what I am looking for, I decided to just rule out as many McNeill family members as I can.

    I have listed the McNeill by years, rents, places and organized those with rents in the same (sometimes not so sure?) lands and if I couldn’t do that by names.

    I will look for the Ilkane in Knapdale, but the records I was reading were supposed to all be from Kintyre.

    Let me know if you would like the finished list I am making or the Old Map. If you do send me a place to send it to and what format you would like it to be in, as they are all in word documents right now.

    Thanks for your help.


  7. Nancy Roberts says:

    You are most welcome. If you change your mind let me know. I will take your advice when I get the list done. Thanks again for your site. I will be posting the list on my family tree on Ancestry. I always try my best to site places and books where I get my information. I have listed your site in my References. I hope that is ok. If it isn’t let me know that I need to remove it.

    Ancestry makes stories and pictures that we post to our trees, availible to other members. So it is possible that others who read my list will come to your site. Most people with a blog like to have thier site out there, but some do not. If you are one who only wants people with similar intrests coming to your site, I will just list the name of your site and not the address. Otherwise, I will be listing your site and web address with the list.

    Thanks again,

  8. David Jack says:

    I am a distance learning student based in New Zealand. Your site has been a great great help, and I really appreciate your efforts. Many thanks.

  9. Rowena Sell says:

    Thanks, Rowena Sell for

  10. Rosemary Gall says:

    Thank you Denis for sharing all this fantastic research. I live in Australia. I am a descendant of Rev Dr John Warden (via daughter Lillias who married James McDowall of Canonmills) of Ballancleroch, sometimes known as Kirktown or Keithtown. Thank you for explaining the origin of all these names, and why they are one and the same place. I have yet to fully explore the property history but your research looks wonderful.

    • drixson says:

      Thanks, Rosemary. I have to admit to scratching my head a good deal when trying to pin down locations. That’s the reason for opening up this research to public scrutiny. Given time, local knowledge, and family expertise, we may eventually arrive at a definitive picture of past settlement sites! Best wishes, Denis

  11. Sarah says:

    Hello, I am trying to locate family records from Kilvaree and Achaleven (Croft and higher) my family name was Sinclair and I believe they lived there as far back as 1700s? They appear to be linked with Mukairn and what I can only find as ‘Lailt’ or ‘Laity’ which I see her listed but I cannot find any further information? Could you advise if possible where best to continue looking? Many thanks

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