Sunday, January 28, 2007

The MacWilliamsons

I was reminded this weekend of my clan heritage, the MacWilliamsons of Scotland. Yes, a quite scrappy, if not scruffy lot. An account on JStor shows some of their bravery and honor:

Clans: Scotland's Pride and Scourge by Geylord Myerling
Copyright Boston, 1932.

The clan's origins are shrouded in history, but the first mention of the MacWilliamsons was in the Lochlear Abbey communicant rolls in 1536. It listed the father, Aelrod, and 11 children, however, 3 had died in the recent Plague. No mother was listed in that year, but he did take a wife, as was shown in later rolls, siring children into his 60s.

The McWilliamsons were a mixed lot, with cattle stealers and aristocrats coming from the line. A notable event was joining the Gunns and MacFarlanes in an attack on the MacElwaine clan after the MacElwaines had dammed a stream which was upstream from the three lower clans. In that raid, the 3 clans captured all the women, impregnated them, and then refused to return them to the MacElwaines, resulting in the failure of that line. These captured women of the raid came to be known as "The Pleaides of Loch Loessen," as they were 7 in number.

Later on, in 1649, Bolliard MacWilliamson significantly raised the lot of the clan by building Everchrist near Loch Lear, a castle noted for its beauty and strength. It burned down in 1650, after, it is said, young Joerg MacCreadie, a stable boy, was playing with matches. The stable fire consumed the entire structure over the course of 3 days.

The union of Scotland and England by James II brought both fortune and heartache to the clan, as Feobald was ambassodor to England from the Loch Lear province, and he enjoyed the comforts of the English Court for many years, writing assorted treatises on the ailments of hay workers, flax weavers, and the like. The writings were considered lost until recently discovered in a cornerstone in the Windsor castle basement that was removed for improvements.

However the sorrow was that young Eric was bound to a merchant traveling to the New World, a place across the Atlantic. Cleveland, specifically. He didn't know how to write, and he never sent word of his fate. He was the apple of his mother's eye, and she actually wove his hair into an afghan that is displayed in the museum in Aberdeen. It is supposed that young Eric founded the line of the current Williamsons of America today. However, that may be untrue if the following account is of this same young man.

This is of uncertain accuracy. Young Eric may have been the protagonist of the story, but the first name of this particular MacWilliamson was not mentioned in the Boston paper that wrote it up. His only possessions were the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, inscribed, "Love, Your Fellow Communicant," a Tampa's Finest cigar ring, and 6 cents.

Headline: Boy Gives Life to Save Girl's Honor
A young boy lost his life today in what could only be described as a miracle and a blessing by God, as the virtue of a woman was saved by his actions. A Mr. MacWilliamson, passing by the local stables, likely heard the victim's screams for help and rushed into the commotion. As Miss McShirly was in the process of an attack, the quick-thinking boy grasped the only nearby weapon at hand: a lash. Crack! He split the nape of the first attacker's neck. He whipped the other attacker with the butt of the whip, rending tears in his scalp the rogue is probably still nursing. Sadly, during the intervention, a third assailant drove a pitchfork through young MacWilliamson's chest, rendering him a frothy bloody corpse quivering in the hay. Miss McShirly was able to escape the dreadful situation to tell her family, where she has safely returned, God be praised.

As no one has claimed the body of this fine boy, young MacWilliamson will be buried in a pauper's grave at Boston Church.

However, this may not be the end of the line, as a later account of the emotional funeral, attended by many of Boston's finest, was also attended by a mysterious girl, who was described as wearing a locket with 7 stars and in very untoward circumstances.

Thus ends the account of this hoary but unfortunate clan. The Williamsons of America may be descended from this line, or perhaps from the MacWilsons, a nearby impoverished clan, cousins of the MacWilliamsons, who always were trying to one-up their wealthy cousins. It is suspected that they may have changed their name upon arriving in America.

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