Isabel and the Ardtalnaig McDougalls

Alexander Fisher's marriage to Isabel McDougall was 'booked' in the parish of Kenmore on 24 March 1759. Taymouth rent roles recorded Isabel as one of three tenants of Alekich 10 years later in 1769. She died in 1820 aged 77 suggesting that she was born in 1743.

The only likely baptism record for her is an Issobel McDugald dated 2 December 1737 which records that her father's name was Alexander McDugald and that he was the 'Earle's Officer'. Indeed the 1737 accounts confirm that Alexander McDougall was the Officer of Taymouth and we know that Alexander Fisher took on that role a few years later.

In a petition to the Earl of Breadalbane, written in 1795, Isabel described herself as being 'of reputable parents and ancestors'. The marriage certificate for Isabel's probable parents state that her father was a 'Barron's son'. It also states that her mother was a McDugald of Achomer in Ardtalnaig and her maternal grandfather, John McDugald, was an 'officer of Ardtallanig'.

Rev. William Gillies, in 'In Famed Breadalbane', gives an interesting account of the Ardtalnaig McDougalls:

In 17 63, there were nine tenants of this name in the Ardtalnaig district. These were Donald Mor Greasaich, Shenlarich ; Donald, Skiag; Ewen, Skiag; John, Lickbuie; John, Milton ; Patrick, Milton; Patrick, Revain; Ewen, Achomer; John, Tullich.

The family name of the McDougalls of Achomer and Milton was McEwen. They have farmed lands in the Ardtalnaig and Ardeonaig districts since the middle of the seventeenth century. Several members of the family acted as officials on the Breadalbane estate, and one member, Hugh or Ewan McDougall, was minister of Killin (1795-1827). According to legend the first of the Achomer family was John Dubh Mor, brother to Duncan McDougall, Lord of Lorn. He had killed the heir of McLean of Duart in a quarrel, and fled to Lochtayside. He heard that a wild beast, said to have been a dragon, was such a terror to the people in the Ardradnaig district that they removed from their homes. John Dubh Mor killed the dragon, and in consideration of the services he thus rendered, the Crown, to whom the lands belonged in those days, gave him a grant of land. He invited other members of his clan to join him, which accounts for the colony of McDougalls on the south side of Loch Tay.

A John McDougall of Achomer married Barbara Campbell, daughter of Colin of Mochaster, son of Sir Robert Campbell of Glenorchy. A silver mounted-powder horn in the family bears the inscription, “ From the First Earl of Breadalbane to John McDougall, 1683.” This John’s son, Ewen, fought at the battle of Sheriffmuir. Besides Achomer, Ewen held the lands of Margnadallach and Margchraggan at Ardeonaig. He and his brother, John, who occupied Milton, were elders of the Kirk of Kenmore. The representative of this family in the last generation was Archibald who farmed Milton, and latterly Claggan as well. Donald, his eldest son, succeeded him in the tenancy of Claggan, while his widow and daughters, Jean and Isabella, continued in the farm of Milton. Jean, who was deeply versed in the ‘lore and family traditions of the district, died in 1933 and Isabella left Milton at Whitsunday, 1937. Donald moved some years ago to Dall, Ardeonaig, which his ancestors had at one time farmed and his lease expires in 1938.

Ewen McDougall, a grandson of Ewen who fought at Sheriffmuir, was clerk of works on the Taymouth estate, and clerk to the Baron Bailie Court. He was the first secretary of the Lodge of Freemasons formed at Kenmore in 1818, under the name of Lodge Tay and Lyon. After retiring he resided with his nephew at Milton, and for the instruction of his grand-nephews, Ewen wrote a long description of the River Tay, the houses and lands in the Valley, and the traditions of this region. He died in 1832 at the age of 73 years.

There is an interesting entry in the Kenmore parish records dated 22 March, 1778. 'On execution of summons compeared Isabel Fisher in Kenmore and acknowledged herself with child, being interrogate who was the Father of her Pregnancy, answered that she had no other father to it but Patrick M'Illivory, that he was guilty with her on the day before Monzie market in harvest last on her way to the market, being further interrogated if he was guilty with her at any other time she answered he was previous to that but she fixes upon that date as the time that she should answer to the Child's birth'. Was this our Isabel? Her husband had been removed from the 'country'. Who knows? No subsequent baptism was recorded. Another Isobel Fisher had been baptised in Kenmore 15 years before; she would only have been 14 when this child was conceived.

Isabel's goats

The Breadalbane muniments contain two notes written on behalf of Isabel relating to her goats. Both were written while are husband was out of the 'country' and it is interesting that on both occasions she chose to use her maiden name.

1. Receipt dated 1773 for 16/- as payment for goats milk sold to Breadalbane (NRS: GD112/74/356)

Goats supplied meat, milk and skins and were mostlykept by the lower orders of rural society. In Perthshire they were also kept by a sizeable number of the wealthier tackmen and landowners to provide goat whey, an acknowledge cure and safeguard against illness. Distinguished people from Edinburgh's professional circles and lowland lairds, in the 18th century, paid seasonal visits to goat whey quarters particularly in the vicinity of Dunkeld. Goat wheying was in its final decline by the early 1790s in the Dunkeld district when it gave way to the growing fashion of drinking the cool crystal clear Highland waters for medicinal purposes.

2. In 1776 Isabel, described as 'wife of Alexander Fisher late in Aleckich', complained to the third Earl's chamberlain about the straying of her goats into a Tomgarrow outfield inconveniently situated in the midst of her farm. This is clearly visible on McArthur's map of Alekich. She craved to be given this outfield for which she would pay rent instead of repeatedly having to pay reparations to the Tomgarrow tenant (NRS GD112/11/1/2/29).

Twenty years later, after her husband had been allowed home, she was again forced to beg for compassion from the Earl of Breadalbane when Alexander's behavior resulted in him again being removed, this time for good and with his entire family.

Page last updated - 10/4/15