Killarow and the McEachen Family of Kintyre

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The name Killarow, or Kilarow, and in earliest records Kilmarow, was the name of both a parish and a farm in central Kintyre, Scotland. The Parish of Kilmarow which extended from the west coast to the western border of the Parish of Kilchenzie was absorbed by the Parish of Kilchenzie during or shortly before the period of the Reformation in the early sixteenth century. Still later, prior to 1636, the now enlarged Parish of Kilchenzie was united with the Parish of Killean which was located just north of Kilchenzie and Kilmarow and extended from coast to coast. Killean Parish, recorded as "Kilican Parish" in early manuscripts, was dedicated to St. John, and before 1753 included the district of Saddell, now joined with Skipness. With the union of these three parishes there was thus created Kintyre’s United Parish of Killean and Kilchenzie.

The name Kilmarow, which would continue in the farm of Killarow, as well as the other farms of Kilmaho, Killocraw, Killagruar, and Kilmorry, all found within the United Parish were, according to Capt. T. P. White in his monumental 1873 masterpiece: ARCHAELOGICAL SKETCHES IN SCOTLAND: DISTRICT OF KINTYRE, variations of the name Mael-rubha. Mael-rubha, or Malruve, was the great apostle saint of Applecross, Rosshire in northwestern Scotland. It was he who was martyred by a band of Vikings who it is said allowed wild animals to eat him. His remains were buried in the churchyard of Apurcrossan (Applecross) and marked by a pillar-slab having the carving of a cross remarkably similar to those found on Isle of Sanda monuments off of the south coast of Kintyre.

The parish church of Kilmarow which was dedicated to Saint Mael-rubha appears to have stood, according to Mr. Cosmo Innes the great Scottish medievalist, near the south end of the parish – approximately due north of the ruins of the parish church of Kilchenzie on the A-83 highway just west of Campbeltown; his belief was based on Blaeu’s map. A site found on Killarow farm and traditionally thought to be an ancient burial ground appears, according to Capt. White, to correspond perfectly to the location found on Blaeu’s map.

In one of the earliest references ever found regarding the church Rotheric, son of Reginald, Lord of Kintyre, granted three pennylands for the service of the Church of Killean (also known as the Church of St. John), and two pennylands to the Church of "St. Mary" (Kilmarow). Citing Dr. Reeves, the imminent Irish historian, Capt. White wrote that many of the various forms of St. Mael-rubha’s dedicatory name, such as Marow, Maree, Morry, Arrow, Olrow, appeared to be that of St. Mary when placed in print. Dedications to the Virgin Mary were, he stated, almost non-existent in Scotland. In what appears to be the last record of the church prior to its merger with Kilchenzie King James IV in 1507 placed the church under the authority of David, Bishop of Argyle.

Prior to the creation of the United Parish two-thirds of the Kilchenzie church’s parsonage tithes belonged to the monks of Iona, and the remaining one-third went to the Bishop of the Isles. In 1561 all of the tithes passed into the possession of the Bishop as Commendator of Iona. But by 1576 the Bishop, extremely disturbed "by the constant incursions of malefactors and others . . . and rents seldom paid", placed the Church lands of Killarow, Tangietavill, Lagalgarve, and Gartgunnel in the hands of Colin, Earl of Argyll and his Countess. And, by 1695 the tithes of the United Parish were allotted to the Earls of Argyll.

In 1609, two years after Archibald, 7th Earl of Argyll was awarded a charter to all Kintyre lands, Charles McLauchlan V’Eachen and his father, Lauchlan McLauchlan of Killarow became feuars of the church lands of Kilchenzie. They became lessees of three-fourths of the parsonage tithes, a lease that was let for an annual payment of twenty-six shillings and eight pence Scots – a sum regarded at the time as being very small.

Through the remainder of the seventeenth century the McEachen (also recorded as McEachine) family became one of the most influential families in central Kintyre having strong established ties with the Campbells as well as the MacDonalds. Charles McEachen made his home on Tangy farm located between Killarow and Killocraw farms, and it is quite probable that it is his grave slab that is found in the old Kilchenzie Churchyard. The large slab has a carved soldier and the inscription:


HEC est jacit M’EACHIN

He was cousin to Alexander Oig MacDonald of Smerbie who in turn was a cousin of Archibald Oig MacDonald of Sanda; Alexander Oig’s wife, More McAlester, was the sister of Hector McAlester , the Laird of Loup. In 1620, Charles McEachen and Alexander Oig MacDonald served as sheriff. In the years from 1633 to 1636 Charles served as factor over Lord Lorne’s Skeirchanyie (Kilchenzie) lands; it was Lord Lorne who would become the famous Marquis of Argyll. By 1666 the McEachen family held the lease to the farms of Tangy, Lagalgarve, Killocraw, Putechantie, Corputechane, and Killarow all within the bounds of the United Parish of Killean and Kilchenzie. Record is found of a great house being built in 1670 by the McEachen proprietor of Tangy, very likely Charles McEachen’s son also named Charles, in which the Earl of Argyll was entertained.

With the collapse of the 9th Earl of Argyll’s 1685 rebellion against James VII of Scotland (James II of England) the McEachens who had given their support to their Campbell chief now had their Kintyre lands forfeited, whereupon they fled to the security of northern Ireland, later changing their name to "McCaughan." At this point many of those who had farmed the McEachen lands now moved northward taking leases from the McAlisters of Loup who held the Kilcalmonell Parish lands of Loup, Balnakiel and Ronachan; the McAlisters had not joined in the ill-fated rebellion. In 1694 Archibald, 10th Earl of Argyll issued a Decree of Adjudication against Duncan McEachen, and in 1699 John McEachen of Balliemeanoch, Ireland sold the lands to John McEachen in Ballagan (Ballevain) in Kintyre who was then granted a lease charter to them by the Earl of Argyll in 1701.

The lands remained in the over-all ownership of Argyll until 1741 when they were sold to Alexander McMillan of Dunmore who made large purchases of lands in Kintyre over the next ten years. But in 1767 owing to increasing financial difficulties Alexander McMillan was forced to sell his holdings. The Tangy lands were then acquired by Col. Charles Campbell of Barbreck who retained ownership until his death in 1792 at which time the lands passed into the hands of his son Donald. In 1823 the lands were sold by Frederick William Campbell, the land’s owner, to the Macalister family of Glenbarr and Torrisdale.

Andrew McKerral author of KINTYRE IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY states that the original line of the family of Charles McEachen of Tangy ended in 1709, but collateral branches continued. Mr. Ian MacDonald of Clachan states that many of the families that remained in Kintyre later assumed the name "McKechnie" with there being family grave stones bearing this name in the Clachan Old Burial Ground. There are several Kintyre McKechnie and Jura McKechnie families who Mr. MacDonald asserts are probably related. In North Carolina the "McKeithan" and "McGeachy" (or, McGeachie) families can also claim descent from this Kintyre family. He concludes that there are also "McKeith" and "McKeich" together with the name "Keith" which are spin-offs from the name of McEachan (or, McEachine).

Information in the foregoing paper has come almost entirely from the "Two Captains" -- Capt. T. P. White whose epic volume: ARCHAEOLOGICAL SKETCHES IN SCOTLAND: DISTRICT OF KINTYRE, published in 1873 by William Blackwood & Sons of Edinburgh continues to be one of the foremost books ever published concerning Kintyre; and, Capt. Ian MacDonald (Ret.) of Clachan, Scotland – a man who has given so very much of himself to the research of families that came from Kintyre. It is to this man that the members of the North Carolina Scottish Genealogical Society owe a great debt of appreciation for the contributions that he has made regarding families having Kintyre roots.

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