Rev Gregor McGregor’s Private Register 1836-1863
(on long term loan from Lismore Parish Church) LISDD:2008.A12
Rev Gregor MacGregor, born in Rannoch in 1797 and educated at St Andrews University, was chosen, in 1836, to be the minister of Lismore and Appin Parish, which, at that time, stretched into Glencoe and included parts of Morvern. He continued in the same charge for nearly 50 years, dying “in harness” in 1885.
Before the start of statutory records in 1855, births, as baptisms, were recorded formally in the Parish Records, kept by the Session Clerk. Lismore has a reasonably full record of baptisms back to the 1760s but, from the start of his ministry, McGregor chose to record the baptism of each child and each marriage ceremony separately. His surviving register is invaluable to genealogists because marriages were not systematically recorded before 1855, and the parish records of baptisms is incomplete.
It is an impressive record: 817 baptisms and 169 weddings, from Ballachulish to Morvern and Oban, but mostly in the bride’s home. However, the book is most interesting where it records additional details, particularly for marriages. In 1843 (wedding 50), he notes that Duncan McDonald from Kilcheran and Cathrine McColl from Gorteinvroddie had already eloped and been married by a “priest” on the mainland but her father, being a church elder, had insisted that McGregor marry them again.
His detailed care of parishioners is shown in the note attached to wedding 62 in 1844, where he records that the bride, Sarah McGlashan from Appin was “the mother of the first child that I baptized [in 1836]”. The bridegroom, Duncan Campbell, was not the father of her child.
In 1850 (wedding 120), Archibald Iver, a widower from Kilmore, aged 81, married the widow Anne Campbell from Ardchattan, aged 73, who was the mother of 14 children. He was a distinguished veteran of the Peninsular War with battle honours in the 94th Foot Regiment (the Scotch Brigade) from Cuidad Rodrigo, Badajos and Salamanca (1812) and Toulouse (1814). It is not clear why they chose to marry on Lismore.
The minister was at his most adventurous for wedding 145 in 1854 when he presided over the marriage of Duncan Grey and Christina Campbell “on the beach at Portmahack with moonlight”.
The register has been repaired and rebound but is still very fragile, with many of the pages foxed. Access to the genealogical and historical information in the register is normally by the electronic version compiled by David White.
For more information: Hay, R (2014). Rev Gregor MacGregor (1797-1885) – his life as minister of the Parish of Lismore and Appin (1836-1885). Historic Argyll (Lorn Archaeological and Historical Society) 19, 29-43.