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The McIntyres Of Arrochar

by Alan McIntyre

It was little more than mild intrigue that caused me to start tracing back the family tree on my father’s side but it revealed some interesting stories and a few strange coincidences. I have still some way to go in developing a better picture of the various branches of the family, but each generation creates its’ own little slice of history in the overall jigsaw called ’The McIntyre Family’.

The family lived and worked in the Arrochar area as far back as the early 1700’s. Due to the lack of verifiable records I have been unable to go any further back for the moment. 

The Clan-an-Teir or Clan-an-t-saor (Mhic-an-t-saoir) has the meaning ‘Children of the carpenter’ and are recorded as having been hereditary foresters to the Stewarts of Lorn. You may ask ‘what’s in a name?’ but in my trail back through time almost every generation had a Joiner/Wright/Forester or woodworker of some kind. In fact my great grandfather was a forester on the Earl Colquhoun Estate and I have a bible presented to him by W. Colquhoun with the handwritten inscription:-

‘To James McIntyre with W. Colquhhoun’s best wishes 13th August 1893. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths” Proverbs III. 6’. (Picture supplied).

Bible presented to James McIntyre in 1894 by Earl Colquhoun

The bible was either a very treasured possession or my great grandfather wasn’t very religious as it does not appear to have been used very often.

It was only the introduction of modern technology, namely the West Highland Railway, which broke the run of joiners and foresters. This caused the family ‘calling’ to apparently skip a generation with my grandfather being drawn into the new world of a locomotive driver. However, true to our name, two of my grandfather’s sons (my uncles) subsequently became joiners and my own father began work as a carriage builder with the railway. A nice combination of the old and new family skills.Alan'sgrandfather James and Grandmother at their son's wedding in 1953

James McIntyre (Alan's Father known loclly as Hamish) on his wedding day in 1953

The main family in Arrochar for some considerable time were the McFarlane’s and as early as 1785 the McIntyre’s were linked to the McFarlane’s by marriage.

Extract from old Parrochial Register - Arrochar May21st 1785 -  ‘This day Malcolm MacIntyre son to Peter McIntyre senior in Ardourlie and Katherine McFarlane daughter to Robert MacFarlane in Tynaclach gave in these names in order to be proclaimed for marriage and accordingly were married upon 7th June 1785’


This also saw the emergence of two family names, ‘Malcolm’ and ‘James’ which flowed down through the generations. This led to a situation with my grandfather’s brother and my grandfather’s cousin both living in the same area and being called Malcolm. However, confusion was avoided as they became somewhat romantically known as ‘Red Calley’ and ‘Black Calley’. This had nothing to do with one being the black sheep of the family but merely based somewhat unromantically on the colour of their hair.  


Aunt May and Jenny McIntyre, Black Calley's wife‘Red Calley’ was born on 18 January 1898 and was named after his paternal grandfather. However, when his brother Peter was born on 1 June 1900 it is clear that perhaps too much celebrating was done when it came to registering the birth. Records show that he was initially named Peter – possibly after an uncle or great great grandfather. However, his named was altered to William Peter on 27 August 1900 which would mean he would be named after his maternal grandfather and so follow convention. You can almost hear the family argument echo down through the years when Peter’s name was announced to the In Laws.

James McIntyre, Aunt May & William Sinclair outside Stonafyne FarmI mentioned strange coincidences at the beginning of this story and there was none stranger than the story of Beechwood Cottage. This is what I regarded as the family homestead in Arrochar, purely on the basis that my father had memories of it, having spent many summer holidays there. It was also my grandfather’s and his generation’s birthplace and home. When I had exhausted the paper records I decided to take a trip to Arrochar in an effort to find some new leads from the graveyards and Registrar’s office. I took my parents as my father still had a wealth of knowledge about relatives and the locals.

Having wandered round the graveyard we enquired as to the whereabouts of the Registrar’s Office. We looked at each other in amazement when we were told, “Just go up the road there and on the right hand side you’ll see a house called Beechwood Cottage, that’s the Registrar’s Office.” We had a very interesting visit with the Registrar who showed us various photographs he had found when he had moved in. One of them turned out to be my father’s Aunt May sitting on the front step looking very stern indeed, a pose which apparently captured her personality perfectly. But the story of Beechwood Cottage doesn’t finish there. It is no longer the Registrar’s Office, however, many years later my young brother wanted to take my parents back to Arrochar for the weekend. He searched the Internet for possible accommodation and almost fell off his chair when he came across Beechwood Cottage, Arrochar for rent as a holiday home. Obviously it was duly booked and a weekend of happy memories, for my father in particular, followed.

Arrochar has had a peculiar magnetism for our family. Although I have never lived there I love visiting and have climbed many of the surrounding hills. I will never forget my grandmother telling me that quite out of the blue my grandfather announced that he wanted to go and visit Arrochar again. She was surprised as he hadn’t shown any recent interest or particular reason for going but they made their way to the village and wandered round the graveyard and streets until he said ‘ok we can go now’. He died a short time later. He hadn’t been ill and it was unexpected, but my grandmother maintained it was as if he subconsciously knew he had to say farewell to Arrochar.


There are many more avenues and mysteries to be explored when it comes to the family tree, like John MacIntyre, baptised August 6th 1788 and drowned near Inverary October 1835. We'll endeavour to add to this page as we learn more. 


McIntyre Plot at Arrochar Cemetery


Poem Describing the MacIntyre Crest & Shield By Duncan Ban MacIntyre

The crest – a hand and dagger bright
Borne in many a bloody fight,
To fame and fortune pierc’d a way,
As motto saith, “Per Ardua” 

Beneath the Crest, on ground of “Or”,
The shield these brave devices bore –
Two eagles bold, of plumage red,
With crests erect and wings outspread;
Above, with fluttering pennons, see
A galley on a silver sea;
Below behold on field of same;
A “gentle” hand with cross of flame,
Summoned Clansmen from cot and hall,
To stand by their Chief “Troimh Chruadal” 

Such are the Motto, the Crest and Shield,
Which oft fought and won by flood and field,
Have been handed down from sire to son,
‘Mong the MacIntyres of Cruachan Ben,
And still reflect with untarnished glow,
The fame of thine ancient house, Glenoe


If you know any further information on any of the people referred to in this article please EMAIL us and we can put you in contact with Alan McIntyre who has been researching his family history for many years.