Duncan Mackellar may have been born in the parish of Kilmodan around 1789. He shows up on a census return in 1851 aged 62 and shown as having originated from Kilmodan. Moreover, he is shown as a retired sea captain (see below), and the family who he was shown as visiting - that of Reverend William Buchan of Hamilton - contained relatives of his, namely Jane Buchan (maiden surname: Brown). Duncan's daughter, Mary Mackellar, married John Wyld Brown, brother of the aforesaid Jane Buchan (Brown).
If the 1851 census return is accurate in terms of Duncan's parish of origin and age, then he may have been born in 1789 to John and Mary Mackellar - (see OPR for Kilmodan). I could not find a death record in Scotland for the Duncan Mackellar I believe to be the correct one, so perhaps he died abroad (not unlikely - Australia is a possibility), or between 1851 and 1855 before statutory death records were introduced. He was known as the "Old Man" by my grandfather's aunt Isabella Wyld Brown (married surname: Malcolm) who was born in 1846, suggesting that he may have lived to quite an old age.
Duncan Mackellar may alternatively have been born in 1786 in the parish of Kilmodan to William Mackellar and Elizabeth Jamieson. Although the age does not tie in with the census return, I recently discovered that his daughter Margaret, born 1831 in Australia, had the middle name Jamieson.
I also found a Duncan Mackellar whose occupation is given as a master mariner (parents John Mackellar and Margaret Bryson) who died at the age of 84 on the 11th January 1875, but his wife (deceased) is given as Mary Ross not Margaret Dick. It is conceivable he could have remarried, but the only Mary Ross I could find a record of marriage to a Duncan Mackellar was in 1817. Therefore I do not think this is the correct Duncan Mackellar. However the given occupation is perhaps significant so I do not want to rule this possibility out.
The following information comes from my grandfather's (Claud Leonard Broun) later writings:
"Duncan MacKellar, 'the old man' as my aunt Mrs Malcolm always called him, came from Glendaruel, and was recognised as the Chief of the MacKellars. He married Margaret Dick, a Greenock lady [I possess a water colour sketch of the Cloch light-house which she painted in 1811] ; left the Highlands about that date. The ship he commanded was taken by the French in 1812 and carried into Brest; but in the night he managed to free himself and his crew, overpowered the prize-crew, and brought the ship safely home, for which he was awarded a gold medal by the owners.
"Later he became a squatter in Australia, and my great-aunt Margaret used to describe to me the dangers they ran from bush-rangers. According to my aunt, all the MacKellar men of her family had white hair by the age of twenty-five, which was believed to be a curse incurred for their taking part, at the bidding of the Campbells, in the Massacre of Glencoe - a fact which somewhat modified my pride in my Highland ancestry."
And from his earlier writings:
"In Australia [John Wyld Brown] met Duncan MacKellar of Glendaruel, once chief of that clan. When the clans broke up he entered the Merchant Navy and captained a ship which was captured by the French in the war of 1812 and taken into Brest. Captain MacKellar managed to free himself and his crew and brought his ship safely home, for which gallant action he was given a gold medal, which was shown me when I was a boy, by his daughter Margaret my great-aunt. Later Duncan emigrated to Australia and started a sheep-farm, concerning which my aunt had Bushranger stories to tell. My grandfather [John Wyld Brown] married the elder daughter Mary. My father [Claud Brown], their third son, was born at Wooloomooloo, Sydney, in 1850.
"The MacKellars, I regret to say, fell under the control of the Campbells; some of them took part in the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692. My great-aunt told me that from that date the men of the family had white hair at the age of 25."
Glendaruel is in Argyll, and is connected to the Parish of Kilmodan, although I am told by Scot AnSgeulaiche who runs genealogy tours in Argyll that they may have come from Glen Shira above Inbhir Aoradh - Inveraray - where they would have been under Campbell control. The Clan Campbell site of North America also has some background information on the Mackellars.
Inverclyde Museum have this portrait of a "Captain Mackellar", who, for various reasons, I think is almost certainly my Duncan Mackellar. The picture is displayed here by kind courtesy of the museum and is copyrighted © McLean Museum and Art Gallery, Inverclyde Council. You must contact them first for permission to save or reproduce this picture.
There are some photos I found in an old album belonging to my grandfather Claud Leonard Broun - most are of his father, but I think some may be of other ancestors of his. I think there is a possibility this one could be of Duncan Mackellar - there is enough similarity with the younger Duncan Mackellar above to make this a distinct possibility.
My name is Alasdair Broun and I was born and brought up in Scotland, son of a clergyman and a freelance journalist. I took up genealogy as a hobby when I was 17 and I went on to write a PhD thesis in philosophical psychology ... more >
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