Early 19th Century

1800: (29 Dec.) James Alexander, apparently a descendant of the Menstrie family in Scotland, created Earl of Caledon [Grant, p. 148; Montcreiffe, p. 63; Wikipedia]

1802: 1. Date of one of the earlier copies of the Kingsburgh manuscript, probably written down by Anne MacDonald Macalister of Skye and intended for members of the family [CMS(2), p. 3]

2. In this year one Charles McAllister is “running the open boat Rattlesnake from Cushendun [in Antrim] to Southend” in Kintyre as part of a ferry service. The service apparently ended some time in the 1830s, but “of its history virtually nothing is known” [Martin, p. 99].

1803: (9 Aug.) William McNeill of Hayfield seised of Loup lands of Portachoillan Corran, Margard, Shirgrim, and Shenakeill with the mill on disposition by trustees for the creditors of Angus McAlester of Loup; McNeill also purchases three merklands of Dunskaig and two merklands of Lemnamuick, which were by sasine seised in life-rent to Jane McDonald (widow of Angus 11th of Loup) and Janet Somerville McAlester (wife of Charles 12th of Loup) and in fee to the trustees of Angus [11th] of Loup [Report, p. 5].

1805:  See 1808

1806: Keith Macalister (son of Ranald of Kingsburgh) purchases most of the Loup estate from William McNeill, who had purchased these lands from the trustee of the Loup family; see 1803. “Loup” designation however remains with Charles as the representative of the name and family of McAlester of Loup [CMS, pp. 22, 35; Report, pp. 6, 10]; note: see 1847, #1.

1808: Charles, 12th of Loup, assumes the arms and name of Somerville; he is henceforth known as Charles Somerville McAlester of Loup & Kennox [Report, p. 9]. Note: The Clan MacAlister Society (USA) puts this at 1805 [“Fortiter”, Jan. 1982, p. 4].

1810: Norman Macalister (of the Kingsburgh family), governor of Prince of Wales Island [now Penang], is lost with his ship en route to retirement at the Clachaig estate owned by his brother Alexander [MacInnes, p. 68; “News”, no. 14, p. 3; “Fortiter”, April 1982, p. 5]. Note: This is the date usually given. However, the loss of the ship is on record as having occurred in 1812, and contemporary records indicate that although others in the government of Penang were unsure of Macalisters’ whereabouts in December of 1810, they do not seem to be aware of his death.

c. 1815: W. M. Mackenzie, writing in 1914, told a story to illustrate an Arran tradition that certain animals in dreams represented particular clans or families. About this year

a young woman named MacAlister reported one morning that during the previous night she dreamt that while walking across the Moine-mor she was followed by a dog, which jumped on her at last and completely swallowed her. Her mother laughingly replied that it was evident she was not destined to change her name when she married, for a MacAlister would carry her off. [Book of Arran, vol. II, p. 289]

According to Mackenzie, the mother’s prediction came true: the girl did marry a Macalister.

1816: MacAlasdair tartan certified by the chief [“News”, no. 30, p. 1]

1816–20: Rent book from Loup estate covering this period survives [CMS, p. 37]

1817: Establishment of Clan Alasdair in Australia: Lachlan Macalister of the Strathaird family emigrates to Australia; he is the first of this family to emigrate, though they are now numerous in that country [“News”, no. 14, p. 3; “Lachlan Macalister”].

1818: Killean parish heritors erect a white marble tablet in Cleit Church to commemorate the generosity of Norman Macalister (see 1810), who donated £1000 to the poor of the parish [CMS, p. 22; NSA: Killean & Kilchenzie, p. 393]; interest of this poor fund was to be (and still is) distributed twice annually to those most in need [CMS, p. 35; “News”, no. 14, p. 3; “Fortiter”, April 1982, p. 5].

1825: (21 October) The paddle-steamer Comet II collides with the Ayr about half a mile off-shore from Gourock and sinks in less than four minutes; among the 62 dead are 32-year-old Charles MacAlister (youngest son of Alexander of Strathaird) and his nephew John MacAlister. Charles’s dog apparently survives, as 16-year-old Jane Munro credits it with “materially aiding” her in her own survival. [The sinking caused a huge stir and was well documented in reports and commentary at the time; contemporary news reports can be viewed at the Scotsman digital archive on-line here.]

1827: 1. (February) “Alexander Campbell, Messenger at Arms in Lochgilphead . . . call[s] at Ballinakill House, . . . the seat of Angus McAlester. It [is] a disastrous meeting and end[s] up with charges against Campbell of . . . assault on Ballinakill and his brother John and on the other hand, Ballinakill [i]s accused of . . . assault on Campbell”. Witness statements regarding this incident are so contradictory that the Procurator Fiscal, though inclined to believe that Campbell is more at fault, declines to take action against either man [Stewart, ‘the Duel’].

2. (United States)James McAllister purchases McAllister’s Mills in Pennsylvania; later the Mills serves as a station on the Underground Railroad [McAllister, “Gettysburg”, p. 170], whereby escaping slaves from the American South are smuggled to freedom in Canada.

1829: Matthew Macalister of Glenbarr and Rosshill dies; he is succeeded by his son Keith, who undertakes extensive building at Glenbarr Abbey; Keith “also administer[s] the estates of Loup, Inveryne, Balenakill,” Torrisdale, and Clachaig [CMS, pp. 22, 34–35; “News”, no. 14, p. 3]. Note: Balinakill is still owned by Angus MacAlister in 1837; not sure when it changed hands, or perhaps it was divided? “A considerable extent of land [is] laid down with plantations of larch and other forest trees” on Glenbarr’s properties; they are “regularly thinned, and kept in good order” [NSA: Killean & Kilchenzie, p. 383].

1830: Birth of Charles Somerville McAlester, later 14th of Loup

1833: Potato ‘blight’ first appears in Argyll; however “[n]ot until 1836 and 1837 [i]s it the cause of widespread crop failure” [Withers, Gaelic Scotland, p. 239].

1836–7: In these years, the potato fails on a sufficiently significant level to bring real need to people throughout the Highlands; if not for aggressive fundraising by some of Scotland’s landowners and philanthropists, “a fearful loss of life must have been the consequence” [NSA, vol. 14, p. 314]. It is possible that this partly explains the wave of emigration seen in the years immediately following (see 1839–45). Certainly many of the ministers reporting for the New Statistical Account advocate emigration as the only way to prevent future calamity.

1837:  Pigot’s Directory, published in this year, tells us that Angus Macalister, Esq., of Balinakill is proprietor of Clachan village; his is a “neat residence . . . a little to the east” of the village. Barr House, the property of Keith Macalister, “is a fine structure, built in the gothic style” and offering “an extensive view of the sea and the northeast of Ireland” [p. 222]. Keith’s mother, the widow of Matthew of Glenbarr, now lives in Campbeltown [p. 219]. Keith Macdonald Macalister, Esq., resides in Inistrynish, near Inverary [pp. 225]. Duncan M’Alister is the postmaster and merchant at Bridge-End (Islay), and John M’Alister is an ironmonger and copper & tin smith at Bowmore on the same island [pp. 227-8]. Archibald M’Alister is schoolmaster at Ardnaw [p. 231]. Beyond Argyll, we find Col. Charles Somerville Macalister of Kennox, Stewarton [p. 278], Rev. John Macalister in Edinburgh [p. 55], and surgeons Norman and Duncan M’Alister at Strathaird [p. 498].

1839–45: 1. Rent book from this period, relating to farms on the estates of Inveryne, Loup, Balinakill, Torrisdale & Barbreck, as administered under Keith Macalister of Rosshill and Glenbarr, survives; rentals in this year are paid partly in cash, partly in kind (i.e., livestock or produce) [CMS, p. 37].

2. These years see a significant increase in emigration to N. America from Kintyre [CMS, p. 37], and about 200 people from the parish of Strath in Skye have emigrated to Australia since 1837 [NSA, vol. 14, p. 307].

Compilation/Commentary © 2009-2014 by Lynn McAlister, MA, FSA (Scot)

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