Search for clan chief highlights Scotland’s strong historical bond with India

October 26th, 2009 - 3:04 pm ICT by ANI  

Edinburgh, October 26 (ANI): Search is underway in Scotland for a long-lost line of Glencoe clan chieftains, who stem from an illicit love affair that produced a noble family of Macdonalds who were as Indian as they were Scottish.

Since the death of the last clan chief, Major Duncan Macdonald, in London in 1907, the clan that was slaughtered at the infamous Glencoe Massacre of 1692 has been leaderless.

A century later, Scotland’s heraldic authority, Lord Lyon, has been asked to investigate a formal claim for the chieftainship which, in turn, has led to research unearthing the clan’s strong links to the subcontinent.

According to a report in the Scotsman, the Indian pedigree has come to light with the emergence of an octogenarian New Zealander claiming to be a direct descendant of the 17th-century leader of the 38 people killed in one of the most treacherous episodes in Scottish history.

Colin MacDonald, 83, a retired farmer from Christchurch, has proved that six generations ago, his forebear was Alasdair Macdonald (or MacIain) of Glencoe, a huge man with a white flowing beard who was among those callously murdered in 1692.

But, genealogists investigating Colin MacDonald’s claim have discovered that there is a line of descent that has a superior claim to the title.

The rival line springs from Ewen Macdonald - MacIain’s great-great-great grandson’s romantic liaison with a mysterious woman reputed to be an Indian princess.

Before Colin MacDonald can be anointed clan chief, genealogists must first prove there are no surviving male descendants of Ewen Macdonald of Glencoe (1788-1840) and his lover, whom he seduced in India where he worked as a surgeon with the East India Company.

Their relationship might have raised eyebrows in 19th-century Glencoe, but its existence has delighted Indian representatives in Scotland, who said it underlined Scotland’s strong historical bond with India.

Macdonald family lore suggests that the woman - known as Bunnoo - was the daughter of a maharajah. Her royal credentials, however, may have been overstated.

The baptismal certificate of the couple’s only child - a daughter Ellen born in Numuch, Calcutta in 1830 - simply describes Bunnoo as a “native Indian woman”.

There are also doubts over whether the couple were actually married - a factor that can be important when deciding the fate of aristocratic lineages given the need for a legitimate heir. (ANI)

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