The murder of John Stewart, Lord of Lorn on his wedding day, the killing of his murderer Alan MacDougall in battle and a graveyard for the line of the legitimized bastard – the dramatic birth of the Stewarts of Appin.
At the beginning of the Clan Stewart of Appin was lust, maybe even love. It was the year 1445 and Sir John Stewart was on his way home to his castle (Dunstaffnage) when he met a young woman with whom he fell in love with. Awkwardly enough Sir John was a married man. It did not stop him though to father a son with this woman, a daughter of MacLaren of Ardvech whose name remains obscure, but whom he eventually married five years after his rightful wife had died. She had left him with three daughters but no male heir, he was forced to secure the line.
The marriage of the long ago lovers took place on 20th December 1463 but didn’t last long. The wedding party was attacked and Sir John fatally wounded by a dagger, they dragged him to the chapel and the ceremony was completed.
“The priest helping him, he pushed the ring on his bride’s finger and died.”
The bride was a widow.
Their son Dugald, eighteen years of age, was now the rightful heir to his father’s fortune and estate, orphaned moments after being legitimized.
It was this former bastard and now rightful heir of Sir John Stewart, Lord of Lorn, who started the line of the Stewarts of Appin. The first of many chiefs and clan members that are buried to this day on the small Duror burial ground in Appin.
The wedding day murderer was Alan MacDougall, the MacDougalls had formerly owned what was now John Stewart’s, Castle Stalker.
Now Dugald Stewart of Appin took over the seat and planned his revenge.
A massive granite stone on a crag above the graveyard of Portnacrois marks the site where “many hundreds fell, when the Stewarts and the MacLarens, their allies, in defence of Dugald Chief of Appin, son of Sir John Stewart, Lord of Lorn and Innermeath, defeated the combined forces of the MacDougalls and the MacFarlanes. “
Alan MacDougall, the murderer of Dugal’s father, was killed as well. Dugal then ruled Appin for over thirty years.
His story is one of murder and betrayal, of love and revenge, of bloody battles and blood lines. It might sound linke the romantic notions of the 19th century but if this is really how it happened, it but must have been a shocking experience for young Dugal to suceed to a father who was killed on the day he married his mother.
Sources and further reading
W.H. Murray: The Companion Guide to The West Highlands of Scotland;Collins, London, p.137