Clan CrestThe Clan McLea/Livingstone Forum

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Title: McLea Livingstone mystery
Posted by: Donald Livingstone Clink
Date: 02 February 2005

Searching through a number of articles on the net written about the McLeas and their adoption of the name Livingstone one is presented with a number of plausible reasons for our people to adopt the lowland Livingston name. The Mcleas prior to adopting the name Livingstone, had a long history of being a small clan that out of neccessity sought the protection of the more powerfull clans and often became a sept of these clans. At the same time there was an understanding and respect for the Mcleas as they were an ancient family in Argyleshire and were the honored custodians of the St. Molaug's staff. Today there may be some who view the staff as an ancient artifact, but to the neighbours of the McLeas in the medievil period the staff had miraculous powers. 

In 1640's James Livingston of Skirling was granted a 19 year lease of teh Bishopic lands in Argylshire and was residing on the Isle of Lismore. It is presumed that the McLeas came into contact at Lismore with James Livingston at this time and perhaps by decree the McLeas urged clan members to adopt the name Livington. We do know that that many of the McLeas that lived on the Isle of Lismore, Appin and Morvern/Mull changed their name to Livingstone between the years 1650 to 1750, following James Livingston's arrival at Lismore. 

It is not known exactly why the McLeas began to change their clan name to Livingstone, but it was not uncommon I have discovered for some members of the smaller clans seeking the protection and advantages of being a part of a larger more powerful Argyll clan to adopt the name of the more powerfull clan. Some of the smaller families in Argyll  found protection and advantages in marriage into more powerful clan families and for others the price of protection for their people was a name change. 

Whether or not the Lowland Livingstons or one of their ancestors had a earlier connection to the McLeas is not known. A manuscript from 1743 by a member of a McLea family mentions that some Mcleas had become Livingstones and McLeas were treated like family when they came in contact with some lowland Livingstones. If there is no blood relation then there must have been some other strong bond forged between them in the years prior to 1743. The number of McLeas that changed their name to Livingstone indicates some sort of agreement with the Livingstones perhaps and certainly some of some clan decree from a McLea family clan leader. 

Some of the aristocratic Lowland families that received grants of land in the highlands wanting more credibility to their land claim in the eyes of the local celts who had ancient claims, may have stated that they were distantly related in theancient past to one of the local clans. In time the locals intermarried and even were persuaded to adopt the Lowland family name and in that way the credibility of the lowland family in the highlands secured. Obviously McLeas changed their name to Livingstone because it was in their best interests to do so. But perhaps the lowland Livingstones or this James Livingstone had his own reasons for supporting the union of the two families that are unknown to present day researchers. 

One suggestion that the McLeas changed their name to Livingstone to disquise their Jacobite past seems to me unlikely as no doubt the British after the Battle of Culloden in 1746 were aware that many Argyll Livingstones were Jacobites that had served with the Stuarts of Appin at the Battle and that certainly would afford McLeas rebels no protection. Also by 1746, many McLeas that resided in the Lismore/Appin/Morvern area had already made a name change to Livingstone. Certainly not all to be sure. 

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