Origins of the McCullochs

Coat of Arms of Clansfolk of Clan McCulloch
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The family name McCulloch is one of the oldest in Galloway, a name whose origin is lost in the mists of antiquity: or as some early charters phrase it - "ultra memoriam hominum." It is of ancient Celtic origin and with such a past, the family can boast of a number of fanciful legends concerning its origin.

According to one, the family is descended from Ulgric, the grandson of Owen Gallvus, king of the Cludienses, or Strathclyde Britons. Ulgric was killed leading the gallant but wild and undisciplined Gallovidians (natives of Galloway) in the van of King David's army at the Battle of the Standards in 1138. Ulgric and Douvenald were vice-sovereigns of Galloway, the McCullochs, Mackuloghs, or Culaghs holding sway over the lands of Ulgric, and the McDowalls over the lands of Douvenald.

According to another account, the name McCulloch derives from a warrior of earlier lineage. Gwallawc or The Hawk of Battle, a Gallovidian chieftain of the sixth century, whose battles were celebrated by the ancient bards and is reputed, in local legend, to have be buried beneath the Standing Stones of Torhouse. His descendants thus took the name Mac-Gwallawc.

Another legend claims that the McCullochs took their name from a warrior who in the Crusades carried the device of a wild boar (which in Gaelic is cullach) on his shield and distinguished himself in the Holy Land with his gallantry and daring. On his return, William the Lion, in reward for Cullach's martial prowess, granted him the lands of Myrton, Glassertoun, Killasser and Auchtnaucht. The grateful soldier adopted as his patronymic, the word cullach, his nom-de-guerre. His son Godfrey, named after Godfrey de Bouillon, the First King of Jerusalem and Knight Templar, was naturally styled Mac-Cullach. Although this story is the most plausible, it is probable that the king was merely confirming those lands in the name of the McCullochs as they are mentioned as being a prominent family in the area some 400 years before.

The Argyllshire MacCullochs appear to have been identified with the MacDougall clan. R.C. MacLagan in Scottish Myths says:

The lands surrounding Balamhaodan forming the district of Benderloch are alleged to have belonged to Modan, who was the head, so runs the tradition, of the Clan MacLullich, as recorded in the local phrase, Clann Lulich o thulaich Mhaodain, the MacLullichs from the hill of Maodan.

Lullach, of course, was the stepson of the infamous Macbeth and ruled briefly as King of the Scots until killed by Malcolm III. He was the natural son of the Mormaer of Angus and was married to the daughter of the Mormaer of Moray. He had a son and daughter by this marriage and his son would have been styled "Mac-Lullach".

A final note on the origin of the McCulloch name which indicates it could also have been linked with that of Clan Donald is contained in a manuscript history of the MacDonalds written during the reign of Charles II (Gregory Collection). It states that Reginald MacDonald, son of Somerled, is said to have married MacRandel's daughter, or as some say to a sister of Thomas Randel, Earl of Murray...[Reginald] had by her Angus, of whom are descended ...the MacLullichs, who are now called in the low country Pitullichs. In actual fact, the said Reginald MacDonald married a daughter of Angus, Earl of Moray.

See: Notes of Gordon McCulloch

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