Elizabeth Barbour MacBean
Elizabeth would be a worthy subject for cultural historians, with her goliath
of a grandfather, whose celebration in song by Lord Byron she might have sung in
her New Town drawing room the year it was published. She was also an interesting
figure Scottish economic history, her father a casualty of the collapsing clan
system, and her husband a successful administrator of the feudal system which
- 1780 - 31 March 1856
- Tearie or Teary, near Forres
- Donald MacBean. He was the son of the famous Major Gillies
'Mor' MacBean, six feet four and a quarter tall and of prodigious strength, who
when assailed by a party of dragoons at Cullodon slew thirteen of them before
they killed him. This heroic end was commemorated in verse by Lord Byron (see
below). Gillies was a brewer and probably the innkeeper at Dalmagerry, the
younger brother of William MacBean of Kinchyle. Donald inherited Kinchyle from
his uncle. In 1757 he obtained a commission in Simon Fraser's Regiment serving
in America. The estate was hopelessly embarrassed, however, and the men in whose
charge he had left it were obliged to sell it before he returned in 1763. He was
afterwards captain in the 10th foot, but left the army, married, and in 1780
lived at Teary or Tearie near Forres. (4)
- Anne Mackintosh, daughter of James Mackintosh, Woodend
(afterwards of Kyllachy)
- 42 Castle Street (numbered 26 North
Castle Street until 1811). In 1818 they moved to 18 Great King
- Religious views
- Their monument at St John's has a quotation from
Isaiah 60 v.20, 'The days of thy mourning shall be ended'.
- Chapel connection
- 1809 (baptism)
- Married on
- 22 October 1796
- Coll MacDonald
- Isabell, Lilias, Henry, James, Charles, Susan, Duncan
(1809), Elizabeth (1811, m.Charles Neaves), Marjory Cameron (1816), Margaret (m.
- Elizabeth and her sister Marjory (and their children)
appear to have been the only descendants of Gillie MacBean who were alive when
the song was published, so it is quite conceivable she was involved in its
production. Byron had a much closer connection with another Charlotte Chapel
member, also from the Morayshire coast, Mary Duff,
who lived a few doors up the road from Elizabeth in Castle Street.
Gillies MacBain, by Lord Byron (1815)
This poem was first published in 1817, set to music by John Clarke Whitfield
in Twelve Vocal Pieces. According to Whitfield it was 'written expressly
for this work by Lord Byron.' (5)
The clouds may pour down on Culloden's red plain,
But their waters shall flow o'er its crimson in vain,
For their drops shall seem few to the tears for the slain,
But mine are for thee, my brave Gillies MacBain!
Though thy cause was the cause of the injur'd and brave;
Though thy death was the hero's and glorious thy grave,
With thy dead foes around thee, pil'd high on the plain,
My sad heart bleeds o'er thee, my Gillies MacBain!
How the horse and the horseman thy single hand slew!
But what could the mightiest single arm do?
A hundred like thee might the battle regain;
But cold are thy hand and heart, Gillies MacBain!
With thy back to the wall, and thy breast to the targe,
Full flashed thy claymore in the face of their charge;
The blood of their boldest that barren turf stain,
But, alas! -- thine is reddest there, Gillies MacBain!
Hewn down, but still battling, thou sunk'st on the ground -
Thy plaid was one gore, and thy breast was one wound;
Thirteen of thy foes by thy right hand lay slain;
Oh! Would they were thousands for Gillies MacBain!
Oh! loud, and long heard, shall thy coronach be,
And high o'er the heather thy cairn we shall see;
And deep in all bosoms thy name shall remain,
But deepest in mine, dearest Gillies MacBain!
And daily the eyes of thy brave boy before
Shall thy plaid be unfolded; unsheathed thy claymore;
And the white rose shall bloom on his bonnet again,
Should he prove the true son of my Gillies MacBain!
- Registers of Charlotte Chapel (NAS CH12/3)
- Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1818
- Register of The Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet ed. Ronald K. Will (Edinburgh, Clark Constable, 1983)
- A.M.Mackintosh, The MacIntoshes and Clan Chattan (Edinburgh,
printed for the author, 1903) p.347, 488-9
- Jerome J. McGann (ed), Lord Byron, The Complete Poetical Works vol.3 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1981) p.473 (he calls the composer 'John Clarke' but 'John Clarke Whitfield' is correct)
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