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Origin of the Kincardine Cameron
by Reverend W. Forsyth

The Camerons of Kincardine

Donald, fifth Baron of Kincardine, who lived about the beginning of the 16th century, married for his second wife a daughter of Lochiel.  The lady craved as her tocher, not money, but men.  Her father complied with her request, and gave her twelve of the choicest young Lads of the clan as her body-guard.  They accompanied her to Speyside, and most of them are said to have settled in the country.  They were called in Gaelic Na Gillean maol dubh, the black, bonnetless lads.  But probably the epithet maol should not be translated bald or bonnetless, but may rather have been given them from the appearance which they presented by wearing flat steel caps.  Tradition says that they were commanded by the famous Lochaber hero, Taillear-dubh-na-tuaighe, the Black Tailor of the Axe, but this seems a mistake.  The dates do not agree.  At the same time, it may be taken as certain that the Taillear must have, visited his kinsfolk at Kincardine in his expeditions.  His name and deeds have been always cherished in the north, and to this day he is spoken of as the notable warrior who defeated The Mackintosh (Chuir ruaig air Mhic-an-Toisich,)  Probably it was because of his renown that he came to be claimed as the Captain of the Bonnetless Lads.  His name would add some lustre to the band, and give a kind of reflected glory to their descendants.  The Bonnetless Lads must have been men of wile and worth, and with plenty of grit.  They were not only able to hold their own amidst the Stewarts, but they spread out to Tulloch and Garten and Abernethy, and not a few of their descendants remain to this day, holding good positions in the country.  It is said the Baronís lady did not live long.  Her heart pined for her old home, and she may have said, as many have sadly said since, "Iíll may be return to Lochaber no more."  When she was on her death-bed she was troubled at the thought of lying so far from her kindred, and her pride could not brook the getting of the second place beside her husband.  The Baron, to pacify her, gave his word that she should be buried in Lochaber ground.  The lady died, and the Baron fulfilled his promise by building for her a special tomb, which he carefully laid with earth fetched all the way from Lochaber.  In a manuscript of the beginning of last century, it is said that her tomb was then a remarkable object in the churchyard.  But gradually it wore away, and only the tradition remained of its existence.  Recently, however, some light was thrown upon the matter.  In 1885 a granite obelisk was erected to the memory of the Stewarts of Kincardine, and in digging for the foundations, the tomb was discovered.  It consisted of a narrow space, sufficient for a single grave, enclosed by a wall of masonry, and at the depth of about three feet, a skeleton was come uponódoubtless that of the lady.  The skull was in singularly good preservation, beautifully formed, and with all the teeth entire.  Some fragments of wood and a nail or two were also found, and what was a touching relic, a spur covered with rust.  Perhaps the spur had belonged to Sir Donald, and he may have placed it beside his lady as a token of his love and devotion.  A rare plant grows in the churchyard, the Dwarf Elder (Sambucus Ebulus), which is called the Ladyís Flower.  It is said to have come in the earth taken from Lochaber.

Editor's Notes:   From Forsyth's "In the Shadows of Cairngorm (Chronicles of the United Parishes of Abernethy and Kincardine.)"

Stewart's "The Camerons - A History of Clan Cameron" places this event early within the career of The Taillear Dubh.  He states that The Taillear Dubh accompanied a daughter of one of the Lochiel chiefs, who married a Stewart of Kincardine, as the leader of a small retinue of Cameron clansmen.  Stewart also states that the flower had the alternate name of the "Baron Lady's Flower," and that the tribe of Camerons who sprung forth from these men were known as "Sliochd nan Gillean Maola Dubh" (The Race of the Bald Dark Men.)