Our Argyll* Heritage
(This is an exerpt from our family history whose Senior Author was my father, J Norman Ferguson - co-author and principal author of historical essays was Malcolm S. Ferguson )
Our Ferguson ancestors have probably lived for centuries in the Kilmichael- Glassary area of Argyllshire, a county that in 1975 was absorbed into Region of Strathclyde. It is a large county comprising part mainland stretching from the Clyde to the head of Loch Linnhe and a number of off-shore islands, the main one's being Mull, Islay, Jura, Tiree, Coll, Iona and Staffa. This area offers some of the most magnificent loch and mountain scenery in the country. The jagged mainland seaboard is a succession of long fingers of sea water stretching from the Atlantic Ocean, deep into the heart of Argyll. One is nearly always within a few miles of the sea or a sea loch.
LECKUARY FARM (From whence we came)
SCOTLAND 1750 TO 1830
The part of Argyll* in which our ancestors lived (see map link - just above) has a history unequalled elsewhere in Scotland. It was here in this ancient cradle of Scotland that King Fergus came from County Antrim, Ireland in.A.D. 498.with his followers the Scots to found the Kingdom of Dalriada, with its capital on the hill of Dunadd. The burial cairns and standing stones found in the area point back to a sizeable and active population in prehistoric times.
St. Columba and his twelve companions landed on the nearby Isle of Iona in A.D. 563 bringing Christianity from Ireland. It was from his monastery on Iona that Columba and his monks set out on journey: that resulted in the conversion of the Northern Picts and extension of Christianity far and wide over Scotland and even into the Orkneys, the Shetland Islands, and Iceland. During the Dark Ages Iona was a very important cultural and religious center of Western Europe.
Duncan Ferguson was reared on Leckuary (Gaelic for "cold slopes") Farm located about four miles northeast of Dunadd hill and seven miles north of the town of Lochgilphead. The farm, which commands a fine view of the Kilmichael Glen, rises from the River Add to the high hills from which there is an excellent view of the surrounding country. On a clear day the Atlantic may be seen on one side and the sparkling waters of Loch Fyne on the other. The Isle of Mull with the snow-capped mountain Ben Mor is visible in the distance. Also, the two Paps of Jura and the majestic Ben Cruchan, famous in Gaelic poetry and song can be. seen to the north. This is Highland country!
On Leckuary Farm there is a large standing stone of great antiquity Called An Car, it is about 12 feet high and stands in a slanting position. Similar standing stones arranged in a group can be found in a field on the road to Kilmartin a short distance from Leckuary.
(The Book includes four pictures. Historical marker at Dunadd Fort, capital of the Scots of Dalriada. 2. Dunadd. Dun means hill. mound, fortress) seen across field of shocked grain. 3. Footprint in rock on summit of Dunadd and 4. Basin carved in rock nearby: Both 3 and 4 are believed to have been connected with inauguration of the Kings of Dalriada.)
Leckuary, a tract of about one thousand acres, because of its hilly nature has been mainly used for grazing cattle and sheep down through the years. However, areas bordering the River Add amounting to about 140 acres are tillable, the main crops being oats and hay.
In 1830, Leckuary belonged to a branch of the Campbell Clan, the Campbells of Leckuary. They had probably owned these lands at least from the second half of the 15th Century. Although no Fergusons appear under the name of the township in two lists of inhabitants dating from the end of the l7th Century family tradition holds that they have lived and worked on this land for nearly 400 years.
Members of the families of the Leckuary Fergusons were also tenants on other lands in the area. A portion of the Ordnance Survey map (Page 5) of Loch Awe indicates the location of the various farms on which they have lived: Kirnan, Lagg, Auchnabreck.
The following paragraph out of a recent letter from Murdo MacDonald, Archivist at Lochgilphead, gives a resume of the population changes in the area where Leckuary is situated. It also sets the stage for consideration of the factors contributing to the exodus of the Highlanders to various parts of the Globe, particularly, the New World:
"Leckuary is situated in the parish of Glassary not far from the village of Kilmichael. In the l6th and l7th Centuries the area was an important centre, a meeting place for both civil and ecclesiastical courts, and also, most importantly, for fairs and markets. After the year 1700 its importance and population declined slowly, though its great cattle market continued as the most important in Argyll until well into the l9th Century. Population statistics have to be treated with much caution. A census of 1755 estimated the population of the whole parish as 2751 persons. In 1792 it was reckoned at 2568. From the 1790s on, however, we have the distorting effect of the development of the village of Lochgilphead, so that the census return of 1831 gave 4054 people in the parish, and that of 1841 gave 5369. These figures apparently disguised a drop in the rural population due to emigration and a drifting of people into Lochgilphead. This movement of population may be partly attributed to the "improving" spirit of the time, causing farms to be enlarged and rationalised by the proprietors, while at the same time driving away the crofters and landless cottars.
* the original being "Earra-Ghaidheal", meaning something like the land or country of the Gael
On Hills o' Argyle
I gae aft on a visit tae Scotia, Far awa' in yon bonnie, blue sea;
I muse aft on th' banks o' Loch Lomond, An' gae doon on th' slopes o' Glen Shee. Oh, what beauties has Nature gied Scotia:
I ha'e said tae masel' aftenwhyle,
As I’ve gazed on rich scenes a' aboot me Frae oor heather-clad hills o' Argyle.
These braw braes ha'e been trod by brave shepherds, An' th' skirls o'their pipes, saft an' clear, Still re-echo, as they ha'e for ages, Sae th' sweetest o' music I hear. "Oh: what music shall we ha'e in heaven?" I ha'e askit masel aftenwhyle, As my ears by Scotch tunes ha'e been ravished, Far awa' on oor hills o' Argyle.
-by "Mack" (J.H. Maclntyre)
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