The name Macpherson -- or MacPherson or McPherson, according to different spellings -- comes from the Gaelic Mac a' Phearsain and means 'Son of the Parson'. The Parson in question was Muriach, a 12th century parson, or lay preacher, of Kingussie in Badenoch. The Macpherson estate at Cluny was bankrupt by the end of the 19th century.
In recent years clan members have purchased the main relics of the clan and these are the basis of a Clan Museumat Newtonmore, which opened in 1952. This is well worth visiting and contains much more history of the clan.
14th century clan conflicts
In the 14th century that Macphersons were partly responsible for the defeat of Clan Comyn, the enemies of Robert I of Scotland, at Badenoch. The Battle of Invernahoven was fought in 1370 between the Clan Cameron and the Chattan Confederation of Clan MacKintosh, Clan Macpherson and Clan Davidson.
18th century Jacobite uprisings
At the beginning of the 1745 Jacobite Rising, the Clan Macpherson chief commanded a company of his clan in the services of the British government. However a party of Camerons, commanded by Dr. Cameron, was sent to the house of Macpherson of Cluny, the chief of the Macphersons. They were there to apprehend him, and succeeded. The Macphersons then joined the Jacobites. The chief of the clan, Ewen MacPherson of Cluny, raised a force of 400 men to aid Charles Edward Stuart. The Macphersons played an active role at the beginning of the rebellion and even fought at the Clifton Moor Skirmish in 1745.
However Charles was urged to wait for Cluny, who was engaged in operation in Atholl, before the Battle of Culloden. He did not and the men of Macpherson took no part in the famous defeat at Culloden. The regiment was disbanded and Ewan went into hiding. A reward of 1000was placed on his head, but he was never captured in the nine years he spent in hiding. In 1755 he fled to France. During his time in hiding, his wife, Janet, gave birth to their son. The child was born in a corn kiln, earning him the nickname 'Duncan of the Kiln'.
During his time hiding in and around the clan seat at Laggan, Macpherson had many hiding places made for him. One of these was Cluny's Cage, which featured in "Kidnapped" by Robert Louis Stevenson, a heather hut on the slopes of Ben Alder. Another of the famous hiding places is Cluny's Cave high on the crags of Creag Dhubh between Newtonmore and Laggan. This cave is no longer accessible without expert assistance. Every year in August, clan Macpherson holds a family gathering, during which a ceremonial run to the top of Craig Dubh and back takes place.
Calum Piobair Cairn
This is near to Pipers Cottage the last cottage on the right as you leave Catlodge towards Dalwhinnie. The memorial cairn to Malcolm Macpherson (Calum Piobair), sometime piper to Cluny Macpherson ("Old Cluny") was dedicated in 1960.
The Glen Truim Cairn
This cairn commemorate’s the life of Ewan MacPherson of Cluny, Colonel of the Badenoch Men in the 45’ and a spokesman at the Jacobite war council at Derby.He was the last of the Jacobite fugitive men to reach France in 1755. He was the Clan Chief 1746-1764. He died at Dunkirk in January 1764. This Cairn is well worth a trip from Catlodge along the Glentruim Road and offers great views and a sense of place. The Cairn itself is made from rocks from Badenoch and from all corners of the world.
The Castle at Laggan near Newtonmore, was the hereditary home of the MacPherson clan chiefs. The original castle was destroyed by government forces in 1746 but a new mansion house was built on the site in 1805. Andrew Carnegie and his wife rented Cluny Castle for their summer holidays. They tried to buy it before buying Skibo. Queen Victoria also almost bought Cluny but she bought Balmoral instead. The direct line of the MacPhersons of Cluny died out in 1943 and the house was sold. During the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, Spanish gold was landed on the west cast of Scotland to help bank role the campaign. It was taken to Loch Arkaig for safekeeping, but disappeared. Suspicion fell on Cluny Macpherson as a man who may have helped its disappearance.
Cluny Private Graveyard
The graves in this small enclosed area are all of the C19th Chiefs of the Clan Macpherson and their wives. You can review the names of those who are buried in the graveyard on www.lagganheritage.com website. Also on this website is details of the Glentruim graveyard and both local Churchyards with a list of names.
This sits on the Carn Dearg hill above Laggan Bridge and is for Ewan MacPherson called Cluny. His Wife’s Cairn can be seen on the way to Newtonmore.