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About Angus MacMillan

Historian, The Clan Currie Society

I have paternal family roots in the Isle of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland on the self same croft held since crofting was invented but, with a father who was an aircraft designer, as there was not much call for that in Balivanich, was brought up in various parts of England. Those roots include a MacMhuirich 2x great grandmother and a name MacMillan stemming from the great bard, Cathal MacMhuirich, via his son Maolmuire.

On my grandmaternal side were MacPhedrans, who received the ferry rights on Loch Awe from King Robert the Bruce for saving his life in a storm at sea, rights the family exercised from just after 1300 to 1700 before transferring to a similar operation on Loch Fyne south of Inveraray in Argyll.

Leaving the University of Southampton with a degree in geography and a soon to be wife with whom I celebrate a golden wedding this August, in 1960 I joined the City & Council of Bristol Town Planning Dept as a research officer. Finding that my interests lay at the strategic end of Planning, in 1966 I moved as Deputy Technical Secretary to the Standing Conference on London & South East Regional Planning and with time out for two great regional strategies jointly with national Government, remained in that arena within a hundred yards of Parliament and Government, for the rest of my career. Latterly, from 1980 to 1997, I was Chief Regional Planner for South East England with a congregation of 18million and from 1994-2000, President de la CRENWE (President of the Regions of North-West Europe), spending part of my time in Brussels.

Along the way I was a member of the advisory boards of and taught Planning at a number of Universities. On retiring from my day job, I followed an Oxford University course in local history which, with a long standing interest in the families and culture of the western mainland and islands of Scotland and an ability to type, led to a role as genealogist and historian for the Commun Eachdraidh Beinn na Faoghla. One output is draft histories of Benbecula’s ten townships that are gradually inching towards and over the publication finish line.

More generally, I have contributed a somewhat revisionist history of Argyllshire to A Land that lies Westward, published by the University of Aberdeen; The Benbecula History Society has published my Flora MacDonald of Benbecula as a local corrective to the general run of error strewn histories of the Bonnie Prince Charlie episode; and in October 2011 I read a paper to the Gaelic Society of Inverness (publication forthcoming in the Transactions) on The MacMhuirich Bards as MacPherson in Benbecula, extending the record of the activities of the line beyond the notional death of Niall Og mac Dhomhnaill ‘ic Lachlainn ‘ic Niall Mhóir and of the institution in South Uist in 1726.

Having, presumably as a result of my interest in the MacMhuirichs, been honoured to be inspanned as Historian to Clan Currie, I thought I should try to repay the compliment and my current project, now well advanced beyond 50,000 words, is a history aiming to pull together what is known of the bards in Argyll and the islands and their main lines of descendants from just after 1200 CE to recent times, wrestling along the way with questions such as where they were before the forfeiture of the Lordship of the Isles in 1493, how a fresh line sprang up in the service of Clanranald from about 1500 and how the succession, genetic and bardic, ran thereafter.

Somewhere along the way, I have been fortunate enough to accumulate two children and five grandchildren, including the fifth Angus MacMillan in the direct line.