Lachlan MacQuarrie, the last chief to live on the island, claimed that his clan had possesd Ulva since the 9th Century; and although the chiefs are not on public record until the mid-15th Century, they can produce a pedigree of sorts going back to the thirteenth. They even claim kinship with Saint Columba. General Lachlan MacQuarrie, the most famous member of the clan, was possibly born at Ormaig on the Mull side after his parents moved there from Ulva. AFter a military career, he became the first Govenor of New South Wales and Australians still make pilgrimages to his mausoleum at Gruline on Mull. He was not the only MacQuarrie to lay down the plough for the sword.
The men of Ulva were known in sonorous Gaelic as ‘the fierce, fearless, great-feated MacQuarries’. Their war cry was ‘The Red Tartan Army’ and they took part in many far flung battles – at Inverkeithing, Bannockburn, in the colonies. Graves of MacQuarries at Culloden are on the right hand side where other Mull men rest. They followed the MacLeans who joined Prince Charles under MacLean of Drimnin at Stirling. An Ulva man carried the banner back from Culloden. With it wrapped around his body, he swam home across the sound. David Livingston was a descendant of this warrior.
Lachlan’s over-generous nature may have been his downfall – he had to sell Ulva in 1777 to pay his debts. However, the majority of Ulva’s crofters were still from his clan. To this day many MacQuarries from all over the world visit Ulva to find their roots. Alas, there are no MacQuarries resident on Ulva today.
The Australian Link:
To celebrate Australia’s Bicentenary and mark Scotland’s close ties with that country a special ceremony took place at the Commonwealth Institute in Edinburgh today (8 April 1988) at which stones collected from the parishes of Scotland were given a VIP send-off to Sydney, Australia/ where they will be erected into a memorial cairn. Pride of place went to a large whins tone from the island of Ulva, by Mull, the birthplace of Lachlan Macquarie (1762-1824) the distinguished governor of New South Wales whose long and enlightened tenure in office earned him the accolade “Father of Australia”.
The whin stone/ which will cap the cairn, was dressed by stonemason Dune an Matheson from Killilan in Wester Ross. To climax the ceremony, the stone, accompanied by Malcolm Rifkind, Secretary of State for Scotland, and Douglas McLelland, High Commissioner for Australia, was piped from the building by Pipe Major John Horn of the Edinburgh Post Office Pipe Band to be loaded for its long journey Down Under.