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How the Camerons Came to Lochaber
by Dr. Archibald Cameron
circa 1740

The first man who was called by the name of Cameron was much renowned for his feats in arms, and his prodigious strength; a monument of which is still remaining near Achnacarry, the seat of Lochiel; namely, a large stone of upwards of 500lb. weight, which he could hoist from the ground with a straight arm and toss it with as much ease as a man does a cricket-bat; a plough-share he could bend round his leg like a garter; and the strongest ropes were no more in his hands than twine-thread.  In short, he seems to have been a second Samson; with this difference only, that our Cameron seems not to have been so easily inveigled by the women as the Jew was, nor did his strength lie in his hair.

This man of might was so conscious of his strength and prowess that he thought no man upon earth was a match for him and accordingly entered the lists with the most famous champions of that age, nor was he afraid to challenge the most renowned of them.  In one of their combats, it seems, his antagonist handled him very roughly and with a violent blow of his fist set his nose awry; for the encounter was accidental and consequently both were unarmed; for had they fought with swords, he might have hewed it quite off, but this blunt blow only set it on one side; yet so, as that it could never be recovered to its right position.  From this accident he was always called Cameron, or, the Knight of the Wry Nose, as that word imports in the Highland language.

Our hero was now arrived at the 35th year of his age and had given many signal proofs of his valor, so that his name became terrible all over the country.  But having little or no paternal estate, he began to think it highly necessary for him to join himself to some great and powerful family, the better to enable him to distinguish himself more eminently than it was possible to do as a single man, without friends or relations, or at least such as were of little or no account.  He had spent his life in the shire of Dumbarton; but as he had no family or inheritance to encumber him, he resolved to try his fortune in the world and to go in search of a wife.  He set out accordingly and happened to light on that part of the country where Lochiel's estates now lies.  Here he informed himself of the character and circumstances of the chief who resided there and understood that he was a man of a large estate, had a great number of friends and dependents, and withal had a fair and excellent young lady to his daughter.  This was a foundation sufficient for our wry-nose knight to build his hopes and future expectations upon.  He soon made himself known to the gentleman, whose name was MacTavish, Baron of Straborgig; [?MacMartin, Baron of Letterfinlay] to whom having given an account of himself and his business (for his fame was there before) he was kindly welcomed and treated with all the civilities imaginable.  In short, a bargain was soon struck for the daughter, who was as well pleased as the father with the offer of a husband so much to her liking; for strength of body, vigorous and sinewy limbs and undaunted courage were, in those days, the best qualifications to recommend a man to the affections of a lady.

The Baron of Straborgig was the more willing to marry his daughter to our knight, because by this alliance he should get a brave, bold man to head his people against the clan of MacDonalds of Glengarry, who bordering on the Lochiel estate, there were frequent bikerings and skirmishes between the two clans; for in those days all quarrels and disputes were decided by the strength of the arm and the edge of the sword.  Our knight, whose courage never flinched in the greatest dangers, led on his men boldly and fought many bloody encounters with the MacDonalds, whose chief he challenged to single combat; but MacDonald, knowing his antagonist was superior to him in strength, refused, but fought it out with him in a pitched battle, in which however he was worsted and great numbers of his people slain; and finding himself much weakened and his clan greatly diminished since the Knight of the Wry-nose became his enemy, he proposed a compromise between the two families; which was agreed to and the chiefs on both sides met (each attended with a numerous retinue, to prevent surprise) in a certain meadow that lay, as it were, between both estates, and which both laid a claim to.  Here the matters in difference were solemnly and amicably debated; and at length the parties came to this conclusion: That MacDonald should, for him and his heirs, forever renounce all his claim and pretense of right to such a certain district, containing about 500 acres of land, with all the royalties, privileges and prerogatives thereunto belonging and appertaining, the contending for which had occasioned innumerable feuds and quarrels, and the effusion of a great deal of innocent blood; this he solemnly assigned and made over to the Knight of the Wry-nose and his heirs forever.  This is the story which the Highland Bards have recorded of this great progenitor of the Camerons.