The MacNab clan's historical territory
stretched from west Loch Tay and Killin across
Glendochart to Tyndrum. The ancient seat of the MacNabs was a castle on Eilean
Ran, an island on River Lochay.
The name comes from the Gaelic Mac
an Aba meaning son of the Abbot. MacNab chiefs were descended
by tradition from the younger son of Kenneth McAlpine, who was Abbot of
Glendochart and Strathearn. The written name MacNab first appeared in a document
dated 1124 during the reign of David I.
The early phases of Robert the Bruce's
campaign to secure the Scottish throne involved dealing with opposition to
his claim. The Comyn family were his main competitors and the MacNabs sided
with the Comyns, their relatives by marriage. At the Battle of Brander in
1308, Bruce defeated opposing Clans including the MacNabs who then lost
their lands. However in 1336 Gilbert of Bovain received a royal charter from
David II. He is regarded by the Lord Lyon as the first chief of Clan MacNab.
Clan MacNeish were based at
Loch Earn Castle off St Fillans to the
south of MacNab lands. As the power of the MacNeishs diminished they were
reduced to plundering the surrounding countryside and then retreating to
their island fortress. In 1612 they raided the MacNabs. 'Smooth' John MacNab
decided to end this lawlessness by a daring attack involving carrying a boat
over the mountains in order to attack in complete surprise. They stormed
the castle and killed the chief of the MacNeishes and most of his clan. The
MacNab crest has a depiction of the dead MacNeish chief's head.
In 1646 the Loch Dochart Castle, which
had been built by Black Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy between
Crianlarich, was destroyed by the MacNabs.
'Smooth' John sided with the Marquis
of Montrose's rebellion in Scotland in support of Charles I. This was an
attempt by Montrose to grab power in Scotland for Charles while the
army was in England fighting in the English Civil War in support of the
Parliamentary forces. 'Smooth' John escaped capture when the rebellion was
finally squashed but died at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 fighting in
the English Royalist army. When Oliver Cromwell rose to power in the successful
English Parliamentary side, he then turned on his Scottish allies and invaded
Scotland. Eilean Ran Castle, like many others in Scotland, was destroyed
in 1654 by Cromwellian forces.
Kinnell House, near Killin then became
the MacNab seat.
During the 1745 Jacobite rebellion,
John MacNab (the 15th Chief) fought with the Hanoverian forces, although
some members of the Clan followed Bonnie Prince Charlie.
The local Campbells of Glenorchy grew
in power and became the Breadalbane family. Through the centuries their power
increased in the area and the MacNabs waned. The estate became bankrupt and
eventually the they lost Kinnell House and the lands. Many MacNabs emigrated
and in 1825 specifically, 500 MacNabs moved with their chief Archibald to
the Ottawa River Valley.
All that now remains in trust for
Clan MacNab is the ancient burial ground on the island Inchbuie in the River
Dochart at Killin just below the Falls. This can be viewed from the bridge.