John MacNab, cadet of the family of Innisewen?

| August 19, 2013 | 1 Comment


Christina MacNab of Sherrobeg (1816-1906)

Jamie has kindly invited me to blog about my MacNab ancestors. My great great great grandmother was Christina McNab, and I’ve included some images of her and husband that were kindly sent to me by my relative Charles Daniel. She’s referred to by the Reverends Macdonald in their The Clan Donald book as “well known as a highly cultured Highland lady”. She married Angus Macdonell, the disputed 20th/22nd Chief of Keppoch, in about 1835.


Angus Mcdonell of Keppoch (1801-1855)

Christina and Angus were cousins and both descended from Alexander, the Keppoch Chief who fell at Culloden. I’ve written about their common ancestry here, because they were also both descended from the Rev. Patrick MacDonald, minister at Kilmore in Argyll. He was one of the key early collectors of Scottish folk music,  and published ‘A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs’ in 1784.  William Mackenzie’ has recorded the Skye/Harris Dance from A Collection of Highland Vocal Airs on his album Notes From A Hebridean Island, and you can hear a sample here.


Christina MacNab, of Sherrobeg

According to Melville Henry Massue Ruvigny Et Raineval’s The Jacobite Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage, and Grants of Honour, Extracted … Christina was only daughter of John MacNab of Shenaghart in Kintyre, and Sherrobeg in Badendoch, and she married to Angus in Sherrobeg on 17th August 1835.

I have not been able to locate Shenaghart in Kintyre, which might also be called Sheughiart or Shenaghairt, but it’s possibly found in the former parish of Kilberrie. Sherrobeg in Badenoch is possibly now submerged under Spey reservoir, but I think I have found a ruin by what was the former Sherrobeg bridge on the The Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments site:


I found a number of sources showing that John MacNab married Jessie Macdonald, including a record on for their marriage on the 16 Jun 1801 in Laggan, Inverness, Scotland.

The entry in Alexander Mackenzie’s History of the Macdonalds and Lords of the Isles; with genealogies of the principal families of the name below explains that Jessie was the daughter of Alexander Macdonald of Garvabeg and Charlotte MacDonald (the youngest daughter of Alexander, the Keppoch Chief who fell at Culloden). Interestingly, the entry also mentions that John MacNab, was “a cadet of the family of Innisewen”.

Alexander married Jessie, daughter of Robert Stewart of Appin, by his second wife, a daughter of Robert Campbell of Lochnell, with issue —

8. Charlotte, who, between 1775 and 1776, married  Alexander Macdonald of Garvabeg, son of the Rev.  Patrick Macdonald, her sister’s husband, by his first wife, a  daughter of Mackintosh of Balnespick, with issue — Jessie,  who married John MacNab, a cadet of the family of Innisewen, with issue — a daughter, Christina, who on the 17th of July, 1835, married Angus, grandson of Angus Ban of Inch, with issue.

The records on the site list the following children of John Mcnab and Jessie Macdonald as all born in Laggan, Inverness, Scotland:

  1. Duncan McNab: 24 Feb 1805
  2. Alexander McNab: 29 Jan 1806
  3. John McNab: 29 Apr 1807
  4. Archibald McNab: 25 Mar 1809
  5. Charlotte McNab: 16 Dec 1810
  6. Ronald McNab: 29 Aug 1812
  7. Francis McNab: 09 Jan 1815
  8. Christian McNab: 09 Nov 1816 (I think this must be Christina because gender is female)
  9. Allan McNab: 02 Dec 1820

This pretty much tallies with the entry below from The clan Donald (Volume 3) by the Rev. Angus & Archibald Macdonald (1904). This includes more detail about the family, but doesn’t mention Allan:

2. Jessie, who married John Macnab of the Inneshewen family, who held the property of Shenaghart, in Kintyre, and had

(a) Duncan, W.S., Edinburgh, who died unmarried
(b) John, who married, with issue
(c) Alexander
(d) Archibald
(e) Ranald
(f) Francis, who married and had issue
(g) Charlotte, who died young
(h) Christina, who married her cousin Angus Macdonald, Keppoch, with issue.

I also found a death notice for Ronald in the Sydney Morning Herald (8 September 1873) while searching for Sherrobeg:

On the 27th June, at Keppoch House, Lochaber, N. B., RONALD fourth son of the late JOHN MACNAB, of Sherrobeg, Badenoch, Invernesshire, N.B.

It seems like Ronald was living with his sister Christina at Keppoch House, after Angus’s death in 1855. According to Rita MacDonald’s Genealogy site, Angus and Christina spent all their married life at Keppoch, although by this time it was rented from MacIntosh. Angus died in l855 from smallpox which he caught whilst caring for the victims of an epidemic in Glasgow. Christina, still young, was left to bring up their large family of twelve, three of whom died in fancy or early childhood. From what I can gather from Rita’s site Christine and her family also lived in London, and there’s a note about my great great garndmother Theresa and her sister Frances enjoying ‘the season’. You can find out more about Angus and Christina, and their children on George H. Graham from Tulsa’s site here.

My great great great Josephine M. Macdonell of Keppoch wrote books about her Macdonald/Macdonell ancestors, and she seems to be source of much of what is known about them given the credits she receives from book written on Clan Macdonald at the time.Staunchly Jacobite and Catholic she did much to promote her father and brother’s claim to the Keppoch Chiefship. However, she seems to have written a lot less about her mother’s MacNab ancestors, so the above is a much as I currently know. It would be great to find out more.

Justin Kirby

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  1. F.Meek says:

    Sherrabeg is not below the waters of the Spey Dam, built as a tacksman’s house it has recently been restored for holiday lets & stands above the dam.

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