Why are the eldest sons of my family called James!

| September 14, 2012 | 0 Comments

In the summer 2011 edition of “The Dreadnaught” newsletter of the Clan Macnab Society of North America there is a photograph of my son Jamie and his two children “Daisy Sophia” (12) and “James David” (10) taken at the 2009 Killin Games.

In handwriting under the photograph it says that James David is the “13th James Macnab of Macnab”. This is incorrect. He is not yet “Macnab of Macnab” (and will not be until I die); and he is the 9th James not 13th!

I remember at the 2009 Killin Games there was some light-hearted banter in the clan tent about first names and nicknames, it being necessary to use them as we were all Macnabs.

I also remember one of my extended family saying that James David was the 13th James and my pointing out that he was only the 9th James in our family. (I also remember saying that I considered 13 and 14 to be my lucky numbers.)

Someone asked me what I was called and my saying that I was called “James” except in Glasgow, where I was invariably called “Jimmy”. I also mentioned that when I was a subultearn with the “Seaforths” in the Far East in 1945/46, my men called me “Muscles Macnabb” because I was so thin” – what I did not mention was that, as a very small boy, I could not say James and called myself “JJ”. This stuck until I went to school!

My grandfather James (de jure 20th Chief) was always known as the “Da”. My father was called Jim, except by his sisters who called him “Jimmy”. My mother called him “Jim” but his second and third wives insisted on calling him “James”. However his school and Cambridge friends knew him as “Jammie” (after his initials JAM).

In later life my telephone conversations with my father invariably started along these lines; “Hello – James here – James here – No! I am not there. You are there. I am here” – and so on.

The reason for this tradition (or superstition if you prefer) goes back to my great, great, great, Grandfather Dr James Macnabb (1759-1822), a surgeon in the East India Company until 1789 who bought Arthurstone when he returned to Scotland. He was not the first born but the eldest surviving son of the “first James” and attested as his heir.

Dr James’s son James Munro Macnabb (the 3rd James) (1790-1860), also served in India. He was Private Secretary to the Marquess of Hastings, Governor General of India. He married Jane Mary Campbell (a cousin of Lady Hastings). Their two oldest children, Flora and Rawdon, were named after their godparents the Marquess and Marchioness of Hastings. Flora died in 1821, Rawdon in 1825.

The next son was my great grandfather James William Macnabb (1831-1915) de jure 19th Chief, who was determined that his first born son would be called “James”.

So there we have it!
“Waa Jimmy”!

Category: Chief of MacNab

About the Author ()

Leave a Reply