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The McCullochs of Scotland | Print |
Written by Stuart McCulloch   
Sunday, 18 March 2007
The family name McCulloch is one of the oldest in Galloway. It is of ancient Celtic origin and as such, 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.

In the book, "The Surnames of Scotland" by George Black, of the "MacCulloch name he states: Much obscurity enshrouds the origin of this old Galwegian name, and no satisfactory pedigree of the family exists. They are said to be described in one of their charters as having their origin "ultra memoriam hominum." The name may be MacCullaich or MacC(h)ullach, "son of the boar". The name first appears in the Scottish records in 1296, when Thomas Maculagh del conte de Wiggetone (now Wigtown) rendered homage to Edward I. His family later held castles at Gatehouse of Fleet in Kirkcudbrightshir, and Creetown and Port William in Wigtownshire. Thomas Maculagh's seal bears a squirrel and S'Thome Macculi. He appears again in the same year as a juror on inquest at Berwick along with his brother Michal and is probably the Thomas Makhulagh, sheriff of Wigtown, 1305. Michel Maculagh and William Maculaghe also rendered homage. Sir Patrick McCoulagh and Gilbert McCoulaghe were charter witnesses in Galloway, 1354. Sir Patrick Macologhe had an annuity of 100 marks "in recompense of his sufferings, and loss of his lands in Scotland for his allegiance" to the king of England 1360 and in 1363 as Sir Patrick M'Owlache had restoration of his lands.
(Black goes on to describe some other MacCulloughs/MacCullochs. Here are some of the spellings of the name he brings up) Patrick Makcowloch (1480), Patrick Mackullouch (1482), Symon McKowloch (1500), David M'Ulloch (1643), MacLulich, Makawllauch (1414), McCoulach (1410), M'Coulaghe (1352), M'Cowlach (1476), Makcowllach (1482), M'Cullauch (1439), Maccullo (1546), M'Cullogh (1685), M'Kowloche (1495), McColloch, McCullie, McCullo, McCulloh, McCully, McKeulloch, McKulloch, M'Alach, Mackculloch, Makculloch, M'Hulagh, M'Kulagh, and Malrcowlach (1444).

The Argyllshire MacCullochs appear to have been identified with the MacDougall clan. R.C. MacLagan in <>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 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.

The McCullochs are considered to be a Clan Sept (or Sett). A Sept is a family name that is related to a Clan or larger family. A Sept may result from descendents of the Clan Chief through the female line who consequently bore a different surname usually through marriage. It may also have resulted by a small family seeking protection from a larger and more powerful neighbour.

Over time, many Septs have become clans in their own right. In the political turmoil that Scotland has seen over the centuries, many Septs also came to be related to more than one clan.

The McCulloughs were also allied with a number of larger clans, primarily the MacDougalls, the Rosses, and the Munros. To a lesser degree there were also some who allied with MacDonald of Sleat and with Gunn (MacCullie).

McCullochs are also associated with the Galloway District in Scotland. Galloway is also the location of the MacDowell branch of Clan MacDougall. In addition, there are many McCullochs that are from Ireland, primarily from the County Antrim and County Down areas of Ulster.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 March 2007 )