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Oh! To Find Your Antecedents in Kintyre, Scotland!

This article may be of particular interest to those who may have had antecedents in Kintyre, Scotland, between 1505 and 1710. The focus is on the Kintyre Rental Lists that pertained to lands held from the Crown by the Earl and later the Duke of Argyll.


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While traveling in our motor home on a mid-winter vacation, my husband and I stopped to visit the LDS Family History Center Library in Salt Lake City. We were graciously greeted and directed to the British Isles. I stepped up to the counter and explained that I was looking for my MacAlister ancestors in Scotland. A stately gentleman smiled and said, "We just happen to have a missionary named MacAlister with us today-let me get him." He was there in a flash and walked us over to their reference section, where he pulled a book from the shelf and handed it to me. What a pleasant surprise I had in store!

The book was titled, Kintyre Rentals, 1505-1710. It had been an "Argyll Colony Plus" Newsletter Project in Dallas, Texas, which was printed in book form in 1987. The original documents had been transcribed to English by A. I. B. Stewart and Andrew McKerral of Campbelltown, Kintyre, Argyll, Scotland, and mailed to Dallas, Texas. The two of them had been very active in the Kintyre Antiquarian Society for many years. The Table of Contents contain these titles: Crown Lands of Kintyre 1505; Assedation and Rentals of Crown Lands in Kintyre in 1541; From "Papers Relating to Kintyre;" Acts and Descreets of the Lords of Council; List of Kintyre Tenants, Holdings, & Rents in 1619; List of Kintyre Tenants, c. 1636; Kintyre Rentals of 1636; List of Kintyre Tenants in 1653; and Kintyre Tacks to 1669.

I soon discovered it was a store-house of the same surnames as those who settled in America! Those who had been named were all tacksmen who rented from the Campbells. At that time, the Crown lands of Kintyre were held by the Earl of Argyll of Clan Campbell.  He then rented the land, also known as tack to the individuals who were named in these lists. They were known as the tacksmen. These tacksmen further divided and rented to tenants. Not only did I find the MacAlister surname as one of the first to be enumerated, I also found McNeill, McKay, McMillan, Campbell, Stewart, Reid and many others. Then after 1650, I found the surnames Moore, Hamilton, Cunningham, Montgomery, and many more. The derivation of each recorded name indicated that person's origin at the time he acquired land in Kintyre.

For example, John Dubh of Clan Donald who was the last Lord of the Isles, had become known as John of the Isles. In succession, each one of the descendants on his patrimonial line inherited the same suffix, "of the Isles." When John Dubh of Clan Donald was forfeited in 1476, the land which he had held in Kintyre passed back to the Crown. John Dubh, had taken the name of McAlister after his father, Alisdair of Clan Donald. After John Dubh died in 1498, part of his former land in Kintyre was re-issued to Angus of the Isles between 1502-05. Wow! There was a genealogical connection right before my eyes!

Since I found my whole line of MacAlisters (Alexanders) in Kintyre, Scotland, before their exodus to Ireland, it is my hope that these lists will be of help to those of you who are trying to find your "Alister antecedents."

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2005.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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