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Clan Lamont Massacre

A.Nancy MacCorkill, F.S.A.Scot USA

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Clan Lamont Massacre

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Massacre of Clan Lamont



There was once a Clan, that became the target of Clan Campbell. Campbell acting as a government police group (for the English that is), hunted down the Lamont Scots and killed them.......slaughtered them and then stole their lands. This true Celtic clan was almost anillated, but some survived to tell the tale. This is a true story, a sad story, and one of power and greed and shows what extent a particular clan went to, to achieve that greed under the cloak of being a police force of the ENGLISH government to a clan that was Scottish. A Scottish clan inflicting such brutality against another was not altogether unheard of, ....... the difference was that they (Campbells, also Scottish) worked for the English government. Here is their story and it is true and told by the Lamonts themselves.......Scone


History of Clan Lamont


Clan Lamont is one of the oldest of Scottish clans, with a celtic oral tradition of descent stretching back to the Kings of Ireland. The name is taken from a chief in the 13th century. His name was Sir Laumon, whose charter granting lands to the Paisley Abby, is still in existence. A very few clans can document their existence back to such an early date, however through Kirk records, and old township records as well as mortuary information has documented this clan to be very exact. Although the name comes from the 13th century chief, the clan is much older, being known as MacKerracher before Sir Laumon's time. Sir Walter Scott refered to him in 'Antiquary as' "Lamon mor", or the 'Great Lamont' in English. Sir Laumon's mother is believed to have been a daughter of the great Somerled, ancestor of the MacDonalds. Tradition, supported by a genealogical work of 1682 found in Inveraray Castle, maintains that a son of Sir Laumaon, had to flee Cowal as a result of a murder; and founded the Lyons of Glamis. He took the name of Lyon from the Lamont arms, and chose as his arms, the reverse of the Lamonts, a blue lion on a silver field.

In the early 1300s, the clan's fortune faced a great crisis in the Clan's fortunes. Laumon's grandson, Sir John, supported the MacDougalls of Lorne against Robert the Bruce. The Lamonts of Ardlamont, however, who held their land as vassals of the High Steward in Bute, may have fought in Bruce's bodyguard at Bannockburn. (This is not confirmed). When Bruce was secure on the Scottish throne the Lamont Chief suffered with the House of Lorne and the Clan's land was claimed by the Campbell, of Loch Awe. By the end of the 14th century a great deal of the original territory of the clan had been lost; and thus began a 'feud' between the Lamonts and the Campbells which continued on and off for centuries.

In the 17th century wars of Sir John Montrose, became 14th chief. who had been knighted by King Charles, the Scottish French King. Sir John joined 'Argyl's [private, but condoned by the English], Covenanting army and in the inglorious rout of that force at Inverlochy he and his brother were taken prisoner. He then threw in his lot with Montrose (Campbell), the Royalist general. A

Archibald, the chiefs brother, (with Colkitto's fighting Irish), [it is claimed], crossed Loch Awe in boats provided by the Lamonts and landed at the Point of Strone. After defeating a Campbell force in the heights above the point the Royalist army mustered at Toward and then harried far and wide in the Campbell lands. Some say, the Lamonts had their share in this killing and plundering particularly in North Cowal, and they attacked the old tower of Kilmun and the bishop's house in Dunoon. Dunoon is a place of grim memory for the Lamonts.

There the Campbells carried out another of the massacres which stain their clan's history. In 1646 the Campbells made a concentrated attack on the Lamont castles of Toward and Ascog, and, when the garrisons surrendered under written guarantee of liberty, the Campbells ignored the terms of capitulation. The survivors of the defenders were carried in boats to Dunoon and in the church were sentenced to death. About 100 were shot or stabbed to death and another 36 of 'the special gentlemen' of the Lamonts were hanged from a tree in the churchyard and dead and dying were buried in pits. The Chief and his close kin were hustled away to Inveraray, where some were hanged The Chief and his brothers being kept prisoner for five years. It was 16 years before the ringleaders of the massacre were brought to justice, and Sir Colin Campbell was beheaded.. The Clan Lamont Society in 1909 raised a monument on the spot where so many met their deaths. *See Lamont Monument below.

After 1646, the much reduced Clan Lamont had a fairly peaceful history, finally having the good sense or luck to not get involved with any more Campbells. They stayed to themselves, and did not 'go 'out for the Jacobite uprising of 1745 nor 1715 Jacobite uprisings. (The Battle of Culloden Moor, 1746). Possibly their reluctance to enter into these Jacobite Scottish uprisings against the King of England is due to two facts. They were surrounded by the Campbells, who always sided with the English government (They were the English police, and served the English well, and all lands they took in the name of the English King, they kept.....a profitable, and territory enlarging 'spoils', and there are still hard feelings on the Campbell way of killing, and stealing lands, in the name and protection of the English King.

With the destruction of the Clan system in 1746, the structure of Highland society was changed for all time. Clan Chiefs' power was eliminated, so was their ability to protect their clansmen, lead them, hunt with them was ended and need for dedicated clansmen to protect and expand the clan lands, no longer existed.

One of the factors of the Highland Clearances, was the chief's inability to care for his clan without any real power. Lands were taken away and given to whomever King Malcolm 1st and 3rd, decided to give the lands to his political friends, thus leaving the clan members out in the cold. Crofters were substituted for clansmen and became tenant farmers with a bare existence.

[NOTE] The Chiefs: many, became as corrupt as the English conquerors, while other Chiefs' stayed steady with their clans. It was futile, there was no way they could survive as crofters and pay rent on their small parcel of land. Some Chiefs' sold their lands to Lowland Scots, who much like the English, hated the Highlanders. Many sold to the English Lairds who had nothing but distain for the Highlanders. Scone remark].

The English and new Chiefs alike, cleared the land of crofters, and substituted the more profitable sheep. As was the case with the Lamonts, some chiefs tended to sell off the clan lands instead of shifting to sheep, those sheep also replaced the Highlanders. Sadly, as a result of this policy, there are now none of the ancestral lands in Lamont hands.

Starting very early, even before 1600, Lamonts have tended to disperse, and are now one of the most widespread of clans. Part of this dispersement was due to the clan trying to not be found by the Campbells who killed every Lamont on sight.

Ending on a more positive note, over the years, the Lamonts have tended to devote the energy once expended in battling Campbells, to achievements in science, government, the military, and the arts. Colin Lamont (1754-1851) a famous Astronomer, Major General John Lamont, (1773-1829) 19th Chief, Thomas W. Lamont Wall Street financier, John Swainson (1926-1994) Governor of Michigan 1960's, and Norman Lamont British Chancellor of the Exchequer in the early 1990's are just a few examples.


Note by Scone:

[NOTE] The Lamonts story is a story that needs to be told, just as the MacDonalds of Glencoe .....both were massacred, both by the Campbells, and neither clan had done anything to cause their anilation. Religion played a major role in the slaying of the MacDonalds of Glencoe. They were still Catholic as was most of Scotland in the Borders and Highlands, and the English were now determined to get rid of Catholicism, by any means. All of Scotland and England had been Catholic from their earlist years when St. Ninian and then Columbo converted the Scots, Picts and Vikings. The English had been Catholic until Henry VIII, wanted to marry many wives and it was against the Catholic teachings. Well Hentry VIII solved that problem by breaking with the Catholic religion and now he was intent in making Scotland protestant, at any cost. He was the King who achieved it, but William of Orange [a German English king] was the earlier king ("Geordie"), who ordered the "mostly" Campbell police and their murdering ways.

To the Lamonts who are left, I give you my warm recognition and kindest of thoughts. You faced a Giant Clan bent on your destruction, and somehow, many of you survived. May the name of Lamont always be taught in the history of Scotland, instead of the English exploits that were taught to the Scots. Some Scots are just now learning their history.

Scone.....

Lamont history provided by Clan Lamont© - comments at beginning and are vintage Scone.

N. MacCorkill, F.S.A. Scot,
Author, Poet,
Historian of the Ancient Clans of Scotland





The Lamont Memorial at Dunoon


The Lamont Memorial at Dunoon was erected in 1909 by the Clan Lamont Society (Scotland), to commemorate the 1646 massacre of 200 Lamonts by Clan Campbell.

Dunoon is a place of grim memory for the Lamonts. There the Campbells carried out one of the massacres which stain their clan's history. In the 17th century wars of Montrose, Sir John, 14th chief. who had been knighted by King Charles; after much shilly-shallying, joined Argyll's Covenanting army. He then threw in his lot with Montrose the Royalist general. Archibald, the chiefs brother, with Colkitto's fighting Irish, crossed Loch Long in boats provided by the Lamonts and landed at the Point of Strone. After defeating a Campbell force in the heights above the point the Royalist army mustered at Toward and then harried far and wide in the Campbell lands. The Lamonts had their share in this killing and plundering particularly in North Cowal, and they attacked the old tower of Kilmun and the bishop's house in Dunoon.. In 1646 the Campbells had their revenge, and made a concentrated attack on the Lamont castles of Toward and Ascog. When the garrisons surrendered under written guarantee of liberty, the Campbells ignored the terms of capitulation. The survivors of the defenders were carried in boats to Dunoon and in the church were sentenced to death. About 100, including women and children, were shot or stabbed to death and another 36 of "the special gentlemen" of the Lamonts were half-hanged from a tree in the churchyard and dead and dying were buried in pits. The Chief and his close kin were hustled away to Inveraray, where some were hanged The Chief and his brothers being kept prisoner for five years. Fortunately, a sister of our Chief, hid the Campbell's written surrender offer in her hair, and was so able to preserve it. It was 16 years before the ringleaders of the massacre were brought to justice, and Sir Colin Campbell was beheaded.. The preserved surrender document was part of the evidence against him.

The memorial was placed near the spot where so many met their deaths. It can be found near the southern limits of Dunoon, adjacent to route A-815. It is located on the left when headed south, raised above the road, in a small park. Because of it's high location, it is easy to miss, so look sharp. It's weight of over three tons, caused the lorry that was transporting it to Dunoon, to break down, and it finished the trip by ship. The unveiling was done by Chief John Henry Lamont, on September 29, and the principle address was given by Rev. John Lamond.


Information on the Lamont Memorial furnished by Clan Lamont©.

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