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Campbell of Argyll
to end of 16th Century



The early records of the Campbells, as with so many of the clans from the western highlands, are incomplete, and several different origins have been accorded them. James Taylor, an enthusiastic historian writing a little over a century ago, claimed them to be "hid in the mists of antiquity" (which Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk insisted were where all families began).

Taylor continued:

"... and we shall not run the risk of provoking the ire either of Goth or Celt by pronouncing an opinion either on the notion of Pinkerton, who affirms that they are descended from a Norman knight, named De Campo Bello, alleged to have come to England with William the Conqueror, but of whose existence no trace can be found; or on the tales of the Sennachies, that the great ancestor of the clan was a certain Diarmid O'Dwbin, or O'Dwin, a brave warrior, who it is asserted was a contemporary of the heroes of Ossian."

One of Taylor's contemporaries, John Keltie, edited the notes of several historians to produce an examination of the more popular explanations of the Campbell origins, and concluded:

"..... the question of the origin of the Campbells cannot, until further light be thrown upon it, be determined with certainty at the present day. It is possible that the favourite story of the genealogists may be true; they declare that the predecessors of the Argyll family, on the female side, were possessors of Lochow or Lochawe in Argyllshire, as early as 404 A.D. Of this, however, there is no proof worthy of the name. The first of the race who comes prominently into notice is one Archibald (also called Gillespic, which in Gaelic means "servant of the Church") Campbell, as likely as not, we think, to be a gentleman of Anglo-Norman lineage, who lived in the 11th century. He acquired the lordship of Lochow by marriage with Eva, daughter and heiress of Paul O'Duin, Lord of Lochow, denominated Paul Insporran, from his being the king's treasurer."

Frank Adam's book, Clans, Septs, and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands, as revised by Sir Thomas Innes of Learney in 1970, places Eva, the daughter of Paul O'Duine, Pol an Sporain, in the 13th century, but Beryl Platts agrees with the earlier version and identifies Archibald with Erkenbald, living in the reign of David I. Research into this difficult area continues, and the detailed genealogy given here begins with Sir Colin Campbell of Lochow, Calein Mor, who lived in the latter half of the 13th century and whose father, Sir Gillespic (or Archibald) Campbell may perhaps have been the Gillespic (or Archibald) who married the heiress of Lochow.

Erkenbald is the Flemish equivalent of Archibald, which reinforces John Keltie's supposition that the husband of the Lochow heiress was an "Anglo-Norman" (for until very recently most historians have treated the substantial Flemish presence in the Conqueror's army at Hastings as "Norman", and neglected the subsequent near-monolithic structure of Flemish society and influence in post-Conquest England, a substantial political force that moved north to Scotland with David I and his Flemish wife, Maud).

The hints of the Flemish connection are strengthened with the first appearance of the Campbell arms. Beryl Platts noted that at Cunningham the Campbell lands marched with those of the Morvilles, and that the first of the Morvilles in Scotland was Hugh de Morville, husband of Ada d'Enghien. Ada's family in Flanders bore gyronny of ten argent and sable, and the earliest known version of the Campbell arms, in Lochow, were gyronny of eight argent and sable. The gyron, of course, limited in Scotland to the Campbells only, is rare in all countries other than the lands influenced by early Flanders.

Subsequently, the Campbell arms became gyronny of eight or and sable. (Students of armory may note that early rolls blazon "gyronny of eight" arms as parti, coupé, tranché, taillé, which recognises that they are formed from the partitions per pale, per fess, per bend and per bend sinister.)



The Campbell Name

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Campbell of Lochow
Earls of Argyll (in preparation)
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