In 1975 a small group of dedicated enthusiast in N.S.W. set about forming the Clan MacGillivray Society, based on the fact that electoral rolls showed in excess of 800 adults of the name scattered throughout Australia, with the largest concentration in Victoria and New South Wales. The project was approached with some trepidation because it was known other Clan Societies established here and in other countries have been relatively short lived.
Our first Clan Gathering in 1976 in Sydney was a complete success, and since then there have been equally enjoyable well attended functions in Albury, Melbourne, Sydney and Wingham N.S.W. - now the pattern appears to be that our National Gatherings will take place in the October/November period, alternating between Victoria and New South Wales. A welcome addition to these have been the move by several large McGillivray family groups to hold their own local reunions, bringing together in friendship the descendants of specific pioneer couples.
The fact that we are a relatively small Clan has some advantages; the chance of discovering family links not previously suspected, has already been proved. Also, our numerical smallness tends to enhance the sense of kinship among us. We are, in fact, a somewhat exclusive and rather unique Society, as we were the first Clan MacGillivray Society formed in the world.
A BRIEF LOOK AT OUR CLAN'S HISTORY
It is important to remember that the Gaelic-speaking Highlanders had their origins in the ancient Irish kingdom of Dalriada, whence, in the third and fourth centuries they came in waves to settle on the western shores of Scotland, naming their new settlement also Dalriada.
History records that the MacGillivrays came with these earliest Dalriadic invasions, setting themselves up in the regions of Morven, Lochaber and Ardgour in considerable strength.
In 1153, the Clan took part in the ill-fated rebellion against the Scottish crown, under Somerled, the progenitor of the McDonalds. The rebellion was put down by Alexander 11, and the Clans participating were scattered far and wide. Many MacGillivrays settled in Mull, Skye, and the Western Isles, but a large proportion of the Clan threw in their lot with the Campbells of Cawdor, an Alliance which did not endure. Later they took the protection of Farquard, fifth Chief of Clan MacIntosh, an alliance under which they prospered, and which has endured to today.
The Clan took a prominent part in the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745, and at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the Clan Chattan Regiment, the only regiment to break through the English lines, was led into battle by the Chief, Alexander McGillivray. The Regiment's onslaught almost wiped out the left wing of the Hanoverian army, but Alexander was killed in battle along with many of his clansmen. The Highlanders paid dearly for their defeat.
Several years were to pass before the MacGillivrays regained possession of their forfeited lands, but lot by lot, the lands had to be sold to pay off debts. Several clansmen migrated to Canada and the United States of America. Among the more colourful of these exiles was Lachlan MacGillivray of Georgia, whose son, Alexander, became High Chief of the Creek Indians in Alabama and William MacGillivray of Dalscoilt, who became superintendent of the North West Trading Company of Montreal, after whom Fort William in Ontario was named.
The main inflow of our Clansmen to Australia took place in the mid 1800's, following the Highland Clearance, and the great famine of 1840.
The last Chief, John Farquhar, died without issue in 1942, and since then the Clan has been Chiefless. In 1989, Colonel George B. Macgillivray of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, the joint author of `A History of The Clan MacGillivray', was appointed Commander of the Honourable Clan MacGillivray by Lord Lyon, but since his death in 1994, the Clans affairs have been in the hands of the five National Commissioners whom he appointed.
It must be emphasised that our Society upholds only those aspects of the ancient clan system which are relevant today. We are not in the business of perpetuating old inter-clan feuds, or to see only (in the words of the Cultoquhey Litany) "greed in the Campbells, ire in the Drummonds, pride in the Grahams and wind in the Murrays." Our ancestors wisely left such thoughts behind in Scotland along with their dirks and broadswords.
Full membership is open to all MacGillivrays - however spelt - their descendants & spouses. Associate membership is open to all persons belonging to families within the Clan Chattan Confederation, ie:- Mackintosh, MacPherson, Shaw, MacBean, Davidson, Farquharson, MacQueen, MacThomas, MacPhail, MacLeans of Dochgarroch and MacIntyre of Badenoch. At the present time membership of the Society exceeds 350, and covers all states.
The Society is governed by a council, with provision for a Patron to be appointed. Other members of the council are The Chief, Chieftain, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer, Archivist, a regional representative for each State and six ordinary members. At each Annual General Meeting, all positions, except that of Patron are declared vacant.
If your senses are excited by the music, dancing, literature and historical traditions of Scotland, if you delight in the tartan and its pageantry, if you thrill to the sound of the pipes - then come and join your very own Society, and enjoy the kinship conferred upon us by our Clan MacGillivray Heritage.
For further information please contact,
Secretary DAVID McGILLIVRAY
Clan MacGillivray Society - Australia P.O. Box 223
Phone 61 03 9786 5218