Clan Donald is the honored clan for the first year of the re-turning Middle Tennessee Highland Games and Celtic Festival. This is to honor the partnership of the games with Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage and Andrew Jackson’s great love for his wife Rachel Donelson. Rachel Donelson was born near the Banister River, about ten miles from Chatham, Virginia in Pittsylvania County on June 15, 1767. Her father was Colonel John Donelson (1718–1785), co-founder of Nashville, Tennessee, and her mother was Rachel Stockley Donelson (1730-1801). Her great-grandfather, Patrick Donelson, was born in Scotland about 1670. From about 1770 to 1779, her father operated the Washington Iron Furnace at Rocky Mount, Franklin County, Virginia. With her family, she moved to Tennessee at the age of twelve. Her father led about six hundred people from Fort Patrick Henry to Fort Nashborough, down the Cumberland River. The Donelson family were among the first white settlers in Tennessee.(1)
Donelson is a derivative of Donald . Donald and MacDonald come from the Gaelic MacDomhnuill – “son of Donald (world ruler)”. Angus Mor MacDonald, son of Donald MacRanald,MacSomerled, was first of the name. Originally the title of the Lords of the Isles, in the 16th cen. it started being used as a last name by those who could claim to be a “son of Donald”. The MacDonnell spellings are mostly found in Clan Donald SOUTH, while MacDonell is mainly GLENGARRY, but more anciently KEPPOCH. Derivations are not territorial but are simply due to “free” spelling by clerks, census takers, ships captains, etc., particularly in the American South. There is absolutely no difference in Mac, Mc or even M’, and any of these spellings, even with a big D or a little d, may be found today in any of our main branches.
Magnus Barefoot, the King of Norway, sailed across the North Sea in 1098 to re-establish his country’s power in Celtic lands. He made an agreement with Edgar, King of Scots, that he would settle for all the islands of the west coast he could reach whilst his boat’s rudder was in a fixed position. He then proceeded to have his boat towed around by his men and claimed not only the isles but the peninsula that is Kintyre.
Fifty years later King Somerled took Kintyre and the islands back. When King Somerled was killed fighting Malcolm IV in 1164, he was succeeded by his son Dougall. From Dougall would come the Clan MacDougall and from Dougall’s son Ranald came a grandson Donald, progenitor of the mighty Clan MacDonald.
In 1424, James I returned from English imprisonment to begin his Scottish reign with a sweep of executions, imprisonments and punishment for all who had not supported him. In 1427 he summoned the powerful of the Highlands to a parliament in Inverness.
In place of his father Donald, Alasdair MacDonald and his mother the Countess of Ross went to Inverness and were immediately imprisoned. Others, their cousin Alasdair MacDonald of Garmoran among them, were executed. When he was released, Alasdair of the Isles immediately raised a rebellion in 1429 and burned Inverness.
James I jailed him again in Tantallon. After two years the men of the Isles rose again and James I agreed to free Alasdair on his word of obedience. He became Earl of Ross in 1435 and his people had a prosperous era where literature, history, Greek and Arabic sciences flourished.
When Alasdair died, however, his son John entered into the secret Treaty of Ardtornish with England’s Henry VIII in 1462. The arrangement was that should England defeat the Stewarts, then English-speaking lowland Scotland would be ruled by theDouglases. All the Gaelic-speaking North would be ruled by himself, with the King of England as his sovereign. In 1476 the treaty was discovered and John of the Isles lost his mainland possessions.
By 1495 the Lordship was revoked and anarchy and violence swept into the Highlands as the Campbells, Gordons and others tore off strips of MacDonald land for themselves.
(1) Wikipedia, Rachel Jackson
Motto: Per mare per terras (By sea and by land)