Garthbeg Coat Of Arms

The Lost Families of Stratherrick, Strathnairn, and Dunmaglass, Inverness-shire, Scotland






From a distant relative in England, a narrative history of the Garthbeg McTavish Ancestry. 

A genealogical account of the Family of McTavish of Garthbeg in Stratherrick, Invernesshire as follows: 

A band of that name came from Argyle-shire and located in Stratherrick in the early part of the 16th century.   The leader of the  Clan,  named Tavish Mhor or Big Tavish took up his abode at Garthbeg – The rest of the clan scattering themselves over the south side of the district as far as Farraline. 

Tavish Mhor’s descendants continued to occupy Garthbeg in succession during the several centuries which have passed since. 

There was one special descendant of his – John McTavish of Garthbeg named John McDunouchie (son of Duncan) a man of note in his day.  He lived about the middle of the 17th century and was a correspondent of the Duke of Athol, regarding the state of the highlands at that period – the correspondence was discovered by a friend of my father, Alexander Fraser [1755-aft 1824], (Lardelimo) [s/b Leadclune] Barrister of Lincoln Inn, London who was agent for the Duke of Athol in 1824 and who at that time wrote to my father [Archibald 1755-1831], which letter I recollect to have seen stating that he had found amongst the Athol papers in Castle Mono, in the Isle of Man, correspondence between John McTavish of Garthbeg and the Duke of Athol about the year 1659 or 1660. 

A daughter of the said John McTavish was married to Fraser of Farraline and another daughter was married to Fraser of Gorthlick 

There is a traditional fact connected with the history of the latter lady.  She was going on horseback to the Sheiling at Killin, by a mountain path, through the hills of Garthbeg, where she had to pass the rapid burn of Alt Garth, by a rugged ford – The burn had carried down in sudden spate, and her attendant remonstrated with her about taking the ford, but exclaiming that it would be no loss to her to fall in the Burn of her own town.  She entered the stream, in crossing her horse stumbled, and falling into the water she was carried into a deep pool immediately below the ford, and was drowned.  Her father took her body home to Garthbeg, and buried her in the McTavish grounds at Boleskine, where her husband was buried afterwards, and the Frasers of Gorthlick have had their burying place among the McTavishes ever since.

            John McTavish of that time period was the son of

            Son of Duncan (Mhac Dunouchie)

            Son of John (McIan)

            Son of Donald (Mac Donouil)

            Son of Tavish (McTavish Oig)

            Son of Tavish Mhor (McTavish Mhor)

            The leader  of the Clan. 

Tavish McIan, son of the forenamed John McDunouchie, was married to a daughter of Fraser of Foyers and had four sons – John the eldest, know as Jan Dhu Craigan, Donald the second, Duncan the third, know as Duncan of Ardreach, and Alexander, the fourth, who was ancestor of the McTavish family of North Migovie.  John [c1702-1774] the eldest son, succeeded his father in Garthbeg and married Mary Fraser [c1715-1770], a daughter of Fraser of Garthmore.  He had three sons, the eldest Duncan McT [c1746-1777] succeeded him in the farm and died at an early age.  The second son, Alexander McT [c1753-1788] was a lieutenant in the Royal Army in the American War, and Simon McT [c1750-1804], his third son became an eminent Merchant in Montreal and London.  He had three daughters – Annie McT [c1741-1807], the eldest married Donald McGillivray [1741-1803] of Clovendale, another [Elizabeth McT c1744-bef 1805] married Captain [s/b Lieutenant Hugh] Fraser, later of Brightmony – a third [Marjory McT c1748-aft 1804] married Coll McDonald, Glengarry. 

About the year 1758, when the British forces were fighting in America with the French, several proprietors and chiefs in Scotland volunteered their services to the Hanoverian government – the Master of Lovat, who got back the forfeited estate of Lovat, about that time, raised a regiment upon his estates and gave commissions to the principal tenants.  John McTavish, Garthbeg obtaining a commission as Captain[Lieutenant?] and his brother Donald, Lieutenant[Sergeant?] in the same regiment.  They proceeded to America to join the British forces early in the year 1759, and fought under Wolfe at the storming of Quebec, one of the most brilliant actions ever engaged in by the British army.  Where the Highland Brigade distinguished itself as only Highlanders do and suffered severely.  This was the 13th day of September, 1759Lieutenant McTavish was among the brave officers killed in the action[?] 

Captain?[s/b Lieutenant] John McT [c1702-1774], and what remained of his company returned to Stratherrick, when the war was over, but at a subsequent period, when the war of Independence broke out, he again went to America [in 1775?] under Major-General Fraser of Lovat.  His second son, Alexander McT [c1753-1788], having obtained the commission (Lieutenant) in his company.  After the first campaign, however, he being an old man, obtained leave to come home, leaving the command of his company to his son, Alexander.  Returning unexpectedly to Stratherrick, he found that one of his neighbors had been encroaching on his boundaries in his absence, and claiming a sheiling in xxxx, the Garthbeg hill, intending sending his cattle there the following day. 

Captain?[s/b Lieutenant] John McT [c1702-1774], or as he was called in the district John Dhu Craigan, early next  morning took his rifle and started for the sheiling in question and took up his station on the march near Benevourich between the estates of Lovat and Aberarder.  Soon the lowing cattle announced the approach of the herd with their unconscious attendants – Up the pass, a sturdy grey cow leading the van, who, as she stepped across the march was shot by John’s rifle.  The rifle shot, and the appearance of John Dhu caused great consternation among the attendants of the cattle, who, with all their flock precipitately retired – the Cairn of the Grey Cow, where the animal fell is to this day, the distinguishing boundary at that point between the two estates, and still bears the name.  John Dhu McT died at Garthbeg a few years after his return from America, at the age of 71 on the 25th of February, 1774, and was succeeded in the farm by his son Duncan McT [c1746-1777], who died at an early age & whose brother Lieutenant Alexander McT [c1753-1788] coming home at the conclusion of the [American Revolutionary] war took his place at Garthbeg – Alexander McT [c1753-1788] married Marjory Fraser [1758-1828], daughter of Hugh Fraser of Inverness and died in 1788 at the early age of 33 leaving two young sons, John McT [1787-1852] and Alexander McT [1789-1811].  Simon McT [c1750-1804], youngest son of John Dhu Craigan, went to Calcutta[?] and became an eminent merchant and one of the founders of the North West Company of Canadian fur traders.  He was head of the Firm of McTavish, McGillivray and Company, Montreal, and also of the house of McTavish, Fraser and Co of London.  He took charge of his brother Alexander’s two sons, the younger of whom died in boyhood.  John McT [1787-1852] the oldest went to his Uncle in Canada, and entered into the business, ultimately become British Consul at Baltimore, which he retained all his life. 

When Alexander McT died in 1788, he was succeeded in Garthbeg by his cousin Archibald McTavish [1755-1831], son of Donald who was killed at Quebec, and whose wife [Margaret] was a daughter of Fraser of Ardachy[?].  Archibald was but an infant, three years of age, when his father was killed, and was brought up by his mother [Margaret Fraser c1725- ? ], assisted by his Uncle William Fraser, who was writer and Commissary in Inverness.  William Fraser had several sons, one of whom Alexander, was a doctor in India and another, Hugh entered the HEIC Service and ultimately became General Sir Hugh Fraser of Braelangwell [c1772-1851]. 

Archibald McT [1755-1831] had many vicissitudes in early life but surmounted them all, and entered Garthbeg in 1789, the year following the death of his cousin, commencing his career there, by marrying his cousin, Anne McG [c1773-1834], daughter of Donald McGillivray [1741-1805], Clovendale who had married Annie McT [c1741-1807], eldest daughter of John Dhu Craigan McT [c1702-1774].  

Donald McGillivray [1741-1805] had four sons, Farquhar, William, Duncan and Simon, also four daughters, Annie McG [c1773-1834] who married Garthbeg, Mary McG [c1780- ? ] who died unmarried, Marjory McG [1766-1820] married to Angus Shaw [c1765-1832] of the North West Company, and Elizabeth McG [c1786-1866], wife of Chief Justice Reid [1769-1848] of Montreal.   

Farquhar McG [1769- ? ], the eldest brother died young, the other three went out to their Uncle Simon McTavish in Canada, and became imminent merchants and distinguished members of the Northwest Company.  Simon McT afterwards took up his principal abode in London in connection with the house of McTavish, Fraser and Co., the Fraser of the firm being Fraser of Auchnagairn and Invernesshire.   

William McGillivray [1764-1825] married Madeline McDonald [c1780-1811], daughter of a gentleman in Argyle shire, a woman of great beauty.  They had two daughters Annie McG, afterwards Mrs. Auldjo [1805-1856] and Madeline McG, Mrs. Brackenbury [1808- ? ], whose husband had been for many years British Consul at Cadiz. 

Duncan McGillivray [c1774-1808] died in Canada unmarried, Simon McG [1783-1840] married late in life a daughter [Anne c1790-aft 1840] of Sir John Easthope and left two daughters, Annie [c1838- ? ] and Mary [1840-1897].   Annie died in youth, Mary was married to Mr. Davis, a wealthy English gentleman, and afterwards to Captain Dawkins, RN now Admiral Dawkins.  

Archibald McTavish, Garthbeg [1755-1831], was eminent both for his honorable, upright character & dignified appearance.  He was Justice of the Peace for the County of Inverness and a leading man in Stratherrick, also Factor for Lord Lovat's estates in that part of the country. 

He had four sons and two daughters – Margaret McT [1794-1852], his eldest daughter married James Lobban and left a numerous family.  Annie [1799- ? ] the second died young, Donald [1800-1874] the eldest son, after finishing his education at the Inverness Royal Academy, went out to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to his father’s cousin, the Hon. James Fraser [1759-1822], whose daughter married the Hon. Colonel Gore, younger son of the Earl of Arran afterwards General Sir Charles Gore [1793-1809]; their daughter, Eliza Amelia [1829-1916] married in 1848, the present Earl of Errol, and is one the Queen’s Ladies in Waiting.  

Donald McTavish [1800-1874] remained In Halifax for several years, then retired to Canada, where he died at the age of 74, leaving a large family. 

William McT [1802-1851], the second son, went in 1820 to London, to his Uncle Simon McGillivray [1783-1840], where he remained for two years finishing his education, afterwards going to Montreal.  After passing a year or two in his Uncle’s Mercantile house, he turned his attention to Law, and became an advocate.  He practiced in Quebec for several years, then returning to Montreal, entered into partnership with Hugh Taylor, advocate, nephew of Chief Justice Reid [1769-1848], whose wife, Elizabeth McGillivray [c1786-1866] was William’s aunt.  William died unmarried in 1851 at the age of 48. 

Duncan McT [1803-1884] the third son, was destined to stay at home, after his education was completed to assist his father, who was advancing in years and remained with him till his death in 1831, after which he continued to occupy Garthbeg until he retired to Inverness in 1849.  In 1832 Duncan was at the age of 28, appointed Justice of the Peace for the county of Inverness. In 1833, he married Helen [1812-1859], second daughter of Alexander Burnett [c1786-1865], Kinchyle, near Inverness, who died in 1859.  They had six sons and six daughters. 

Simon McT [1805-1823], Archibald’s youngest son died in 1823 at the age of 17 after a lingering illness.

I, Duncan McTavish, late of Garthbeg, third son of the above mentioned Archibald, do hereby verify the accuracy of the preceding narrative, having obtained the earlier portion of the history from my father, who was well versed in the family lore – all the principle facts being corroborated from other authentic sources, the events of the last 70 years are all within my own recollection.


Signed, D[uncan]. MacTavish, Heathmount, Inverness, Feby 6th 1884.