20th – 21st Century

1900–01: (South Africa) Major William Macalister Hall serves with the Argyll & Sutherland Highland Regiment in the second Boer War [“Fortiter”, Aug. 1982, p. 3; Burke’s Peerage & Gentry: ‘Macalister Hall of Torrisdale’; War Service of Officers, 1905, p. 2627; personal correspondence with Niall Macalister Hall of Torrisdale].

1903: 1. Death of Charles 14th of Loup : His obituary reads “At Dunsaig, Ayr, on the 17th January, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Somerville M’Alester of Loup and Kennox, J.P. and D.L. in his 73rd year, Chief of his Clan, late Captain 46th Regiment and Adjutant Royal Ayr and Wigtown Militia” (The West Country and Galloway Journal, 22 January 1903) [Report, p. 11].

2. Establishment of the Macalister-Hall family at Torrisdale : William (Hall), son of Peter McAllister Hall (see 1864) purchases the Torrisdale estate; family takes the name Macalister-Hall, possibly as part of an entailed arrangement [CMS, p. 24; “Fortiter”, Aug. 1982; personal correspondence with Niall Macalister Hall of Torrisdale]. He is succeeded by his son Donald Stuart Macalister-Hall [CMS, p. 25; Burke’s Peerage & Gentry: ‘Macalister Hall of Torrisdale’ ].

3. Ranald Macdonald Brodie Macalister, later 4th Laird of Glenbarr, born [CMS, P. 39].

4. Conditions in rural Kintyre this year shock a visitor to Machrihanish, who complains: “Imagine my disgusted surprise to discover that the houses here are utterly devoid of any sanitary arrangement whatsoever. There is not a lavatory or waste-closet of any description to be found – either inside or outside the dwelling places. . . . Is this the 20th century or the 10th? I have travelled considerably in the British Isles (and out of them) but I have never seen the like in any civilised place” [Martin, p. 129].

1904: James Macalister-Hall of Killean and Tangy dies unmarried [England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966] and is succeeded by his brother Stuart, who marries but has no children. These estates pass on the death of Stuart to a nephew, James (or Hamish) Hall, son of Allan Macalister-Hall [CMS, pp. 24-5].

1906: birth of Charles Godfrey Somerville McAlester, later 16th of Loup; he is the nephew, not the son, of the 15th chief.

1910: Establishment of the McCallister family in New Zealand : Robert McCallister of Lancashire (born 1871, a descendant of Robert McCallister of Ireland—see 1795) emigrates to New Zealand, where he marries, evidently bigamously; his descendants may be the only MacAlasdairs of that spelling in NZ today [Janet McCallister, correspondence, 1997].

1912: Crubasdale estate passes from Mrs. MacAllister to her daughter, Mrs. MacNeill [TSA: Killean & Kilchenzie, p. 273].

1914: Outbreak of the Great War; this apparently ends the ancient custom of poor people living in caves along the Kintyre coast, something the authorities have been trying unsuccessfully to put a stop to for at least a hundred years [Martin, pp. 122- 5].

1915: (6 November) The SS Clan Macalister, first Clan Line casualty of WWI, is torpedoed and sinks in the Mediterranean en route to Calcutta from Liverpool. This passenger liner had been requisitioned for military use. It was, in fact, the second of the Clan Line ships to carry our clan’s name: the first, built in 1891, was wrecked in 1904.

1921: Ranald Macdonald Brodie Macalister succeeds as 4th laird of Glenbarr; after the death of his father, he leaves the management of the estates to his mother while he studies in Australia.

1925: (1 December) Sir John Young Walker Macalister, a descendant of the Tarbert family who revolutionised librarianship in the UK, dies in London, aged 69.  

1926: 1. (Ireland) Castle and lands of Kenbane are given by the Boyds of Ballycastle (see 1776) to the county council for preservation [“Fortiter”, Oct. 1982, p. 7].

2. (December) James McAllister Christmas Fund established “in the interest of racial harmony” by the late W.W. Fuller, general counsel for American Tobacco Co. Fuller, who was white, started the fund in memory of his childhood friend James McAllister, a black man who hauled heavy loads by cart, or dray. This fund continues to be distributed today, benefitting hundreds of Fayetteville, Arkansas, residents per year.  

1927: Death of William Henry Somerville McAlester; see 1871.

1930s: (Arran) By now, “the M’Alisters [a]re the most numerous clan in Shiskine [Robertson, ‘Clans of Shiskine’]

1931: (14th March) Death of Charles Godfrey Somerville M’Alester (15th of Loup), “Chief of his Clan, in his 64th year” (Ayr Advertiser, 19 March 1931) [Report, p. 11]; he is unmarried and has no heirs [“Fortiter”, Jan. 1982, p. 4; Report, p. 3] so the title passes to his nephew, Charles Godfrey Somerville McAlester (b. 1906), father of the current chief.

1937: Birth of Angus Macalister, 5th laird of glenbarr

1940s: At some point during this decade, the few remaining residents of the Isle of Cara are relocated to Gigha; among them is Charlotte McAlister, the last person born on the island. [Lonely Isles: Cara (http://www.redwebforum.com/isles/cara/Home.htm)]

1940: 1. Tangy estate broken up: death of Mrs. Macalister-Hall—widow of James (Hamish—see 1904); James’s only child died in infancy, so the Tangy estate passes to his sister, Miss Grace Macalister-Hall. The estate is then broken up and Grace builds a new house for herself near the farm of Tangylaire [CMS, pp. 25-6].

2. Killean estate sold [CMS, pp. 25-6]

3. (29 May) The third, and last of the Clan Line passenger liners named SS Clan Macalister, is lost during the evacuation of Dunkirk. According to A. D. Divine, the Clan Macalister was more than twice the size of any non-destroyer ship that took part in this truly remarkable episode in WWII [Divine, Dunkirk (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1948), p. 107]. She had been requisitioned for military use and was of importance to the rescue because she carried eight of the assault landing craft that were to be used to shuttle soldiers from the beach to the ships that could take them home. All but 18 of her crew are rescued.

WWII: 1. Ranald of Glenbarr is commissioned in the Royal Indian Army Service Corps, he is commended in 1944 for his part in organising the Transport Field in Delhi.

2. During the second world war, Miss Grace Macalister-Hall of Tangylaire “g[ives] freely of her time and talents to help with church work and welfare work” [CMS, p. 26].

3. John (d. 1940) and Peter (d. 1941), sons of Sir Ian MacAlister of Tarbert, are killed in action [CMS, p. 13; UK Commonwealth War Graves 1939-1947].

4. Diarmid Hastie of the McAllister-Hall family is a POW [“Fortiter”, Aug. 1982, p. 3; Burke’s Peerage & Gentry: ‘Macalister-Hall of Torrisdale’].

5. William Peter McAllister-Hall dies in Hong Kong [Fortiter”, Aug. 1982, p. 3; Burke’s Peerage & Gentry ‘Macalister-Hall of Torrisdale’; UK Army Roll of Honour, 1939-45, no. 3059228.].

1944: (14th September) John Kenneth Macalister, Canadian war hero and SOE agent, executed at Buchenwald concentration camp. He and another Canadian agent had been caught behind enemy lines by the Nazis, who attempted – without success – to obtain information that would have enabled the Germans to send misinformation to the allies.  

1948: Birth of Charles Godfrey Somerville McAlester, son of Charles, 16th of Loup in Rangoon [newspaper announcement (you can view this on ancestry.com); CMS; Report].

1950: Death of Edith Dudgen, mother of Ranald of Glenbarr; Ranald is “obliged to sell part of the estates in order to meet death duty requirements. Most [a]re bought by the tenants by whom he [i]s held in great esteem”, in part because he actuall farms rather than simply managing the estate . . . Many of these are descendants of tenants who “first received their tacks from the 1st laird” [CMS, pp. 23, 39-40].

1950s: (Ireland) Moycraig property devolves onto the nearest representatives of the Clintagh line, which left the area centuries earlier [CMS, p. 48].

1951/3: Status of Clan Alasdair lands in Kintyre : Glenbarr is held by Mr. Ronald MacAllister [NOTE: this would be Ranald, grandson of Keith]; Crubasdale is owned by the daughter of a MacAllister and Tangy by Miss MacAllister-Hall [TSA: Killean & Kilchenzie, p. 273].

1955: Death of Miss Grace Macalister-Hall of Tangylaire [TSA: Co. of Argyll, Killean & Kilchenzie, p. 273; England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966]; estate farms all purchased by the tenants, many of whom descend from the first tenants of the Macalister-Hall family [CMS, p. 26]

1958: (16 Jan.) Birth of the present chief, William St. John Somerville McAlester, later 17th of Loup, in Barbados

1959: Loup family returns to the UK.

1965–73: Viet Nam War : Numerous American clansmen are lost in this conflict; the name appears (in various forms) 12 times on the VN Wall Memorial in Washington, DC [McAllister, “Memorium”, p. 82]. In addition, 18 of this clan served with the Australian forces and two with New Zealand. Despite their country’s official neutrality, many Canadians served with the U.S. forces – the most frequent estimate is 12,000; it is likely that there were Macalisters among them.

1980: Angus Charles Macalister (son of Capt. Ranald MacDonald Brodie Macalister?) succeeds as 5th Laird of Glenbarr [CMS, p. 23].

1982: Falkland Islands conflict : William McAlester, later 17th of Loup, serves as a commando in the Royal Marines [Burke’s, “McAlister of Loup & Kennox”; correspondance with William McAlester].

1984: 1. (25 March) Death of 24th chief (16th of Loup) at Bournemouth

2. (Sept.) Clan Centre opened in Kintyre : Angus Macalister, 5th laird of Glenbarr, presents Glenbarr Abbey to the Clan Alasdair to serve as the home of a MacAlasdair clan centre.

1989: (15 April) Francis Joseph McAllister, aged 27, is one of the 96 Liverpool Football Club supporters crushed to death during a semi-final match in the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster near Sheffield. 

1991: Present chief recognised by the Lord Lyon 

2003: (24 March) British journalist Matt McAllester, in Iraq to cover the war there, is arrested by Iraqi intelligence agents, along with photographers Moises Saman, Molly Bingham and Johann Spanner. They are held for eight days at Saddam Hussein’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison, where they are interrogated and pressured to admit that they are working for the CIA, but unlike others around them, they are not tortured. The intervention of, among others, Yasser Arafat (Saman’s family is Palestinian) secures their release, but the arrest is never explained.

2007: (4 April) Death of Angus of Glenbarr. Angus’s obituary appears in several national newspapers, including the Scotsman (17 April 2007) and the Herald (23 April 2007), which credits him with providing a needed focal point for the clan through his renovation of Glenbarr Abbey and his generous gift of the Abbey to serve as a clan centre.

2009: (12 December) Death of Canon Charles Copland (son of Williamina Somerville McAlester and grandson of the the 22nd chief), a second-generation clergyman in the Scottish Episcopal Church. He was in Episcopalian ministry for 75 years and several Scottish periodicals ran obituaries. In Kirriemuir, where he retired, “He was a familiar figure, with his McAlester kilt”, and was known for his home-brewed vintage, which “bordered on lethal” [the Scotsman, 22 Dec. 2009; Church Times, 15 Jan. 2010].

2011: (12 June) Lee McAllister (‘the Aberdeen Assassin’) makes boxing history, becoming the first fighter to hold Commonwealth titles in two weight categories at once [BBC News NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland, 12 June 2011 (www.bbc.co.uk/news /uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-12741461)].

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


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