In the County of Dumbarton, Argyllshire, Scotland lies the Rosneath Peninsula. It is bordered on the west by Loch Long, on the east by Gare Loch, and on the south by the Firth of Clyde. Completely surrounded by water except for a slender landbridge at Garelochhead, it was sometimes described in ancient records as an island.

     The name “Rosneath” is of Gælic origin and may be derived from one of two possibilities. One is Ros Nœth (“the bare or unwooded promontory”), and the other Ros ionad naomh (“the cape of the sanctuary”). This latter meaning may allude to the site of the chapel of St. Modan, a sixth-century Celtic monk who built his church there. The church nearby is supposed to contain the relics of St. Modan. The well associated with St. Modan still attracts pilgrims who come to take its healing waters.

     Rachane, which now lies within the parish of Rosneath, is also an old settlement bearing a Gælic name which is thought to come from the word Rathain meaning “a ferny place”, “an enclosed space”, or “a place of signal or fire”. Both locations lie on the western side of the old Celtic province of the Lennox.

     The records of the medieval period provide relatively little information on Rosneath. One of the earliest references dates from 1199 when Michael Gilmodyne was priest at Rosneath. Alexander III, who reigned in the late thirteenth century, handed Rosneath to the jurisdiction of the Abbot of Paisley. In 1264 Rosneath was owned by an Alexander Dunoon, and then it fell into the hands of the Drummond family. During the War of Independence, Sir William Wallace is said by Blind Harry, the medieval Scottish minstrel, to have destroyed the Castle of Rosneath; while in another tale Wallace escaped from the English at Rosneath, across the loch to Cairndhu Point.

     The Registers of the Great Seal of Scotland, which date from the reign of King Robert the Bruce, provide some information on both Rosneath and nearby Rachane. In 1320 King Robert confirmed Robert, son of Murath in the lands of Rathean; his son Robert II confirmed the charter, but now in the name of Murthac, son of Malcolm. By late century the lands were in the hands of Murdoch Lecky. In 1372 King Robert III confirmed the transfer of Rosneath from John Drummond to Alexander Menteith; this was given in compensation for the slaughter of Menteith’s brother by the Drummonds.

     In 1455 Rosneath was annexed by the Crown and remained in Royal hands until 1473, when it was granted to John Colquhoun of Luss. On 9 January 1490 King James IV granted the lands of Rosneath to Colin Campbell, First Earl of Argyll, who was then the Royal Chancellor. Campbell died shortly thereafter on 10 May 1493 and was succeeded by his son Archibald. So Rosneath came into the hands of the Campbell family and remained so until 1941.

     The Campbells are one of Scotland’s most prominent and successful clans. The surname, which is derived from the Gælic Caimbeul meaning “wry mouth”, has been in use since the thirteenth century. Earlier the family seems to have been known as Chlann O’Duibhne, although there is debate about this.

     Around this time the power of the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles, was on the wane while that of the Campbells was on the wax. The territorial expansion of the Campbells in Argyll was largely at the expense of the MacDonalds and associated clans.

     The acquisition of Rosneath was one example of the lands acquired by the Campbells around this period. In 1495 King James IV led a second expedition to the Isles to establish his power there. He was accompanied on this by Archibald Campbell, Second Earl of Argyll, who had recently been appointed as Master of the Royal Household. Archibald Campbell was becoming well-established as the agent of royal power in Argyll and neighbouring counties, and simultaneously his landholding was being extended in Argyll, Perthshire, and Fife. His marriage to Elizabeth Stewart, daughter of the Earl of Lennox, the major landowner to the east of Archibald’s lands in Argyll, reinforced his position.

     On 24 April 1509 the lands of Rosneath were incorporated into a barony by James IV which was then granted to Archibald Campbell, Second Earl of Argyll. As a leading royal servant, Campbell accompanied James IV on his attempted invasion of England in 1514. At the Battle of Flodden he commanded the right wing of the Scottish army and, like his royal master, was killed there.

     At some point in the fifteenth century Rachean, which had been in the control of the Lecky family, was acquired by a branch of the Campbell of Ardkinglas family. Colin Campbell of Ardkinglas, third son of Colin Campbell of Lochow who died in 1413, was the progenitor of the Campbells of Rachean among others.

     In 1528 Colin Campbell, the third Earl of Argyll, was appointed as the hereditary Lord Justice General and Master of the Royal Household in Scotland. James V in 1537 confirmed the charter of Archibald, Fourth Earl of Argyll, in the five-merkland of Clauchan in the Barony of Rosneath thereby extending his landholding there.

    The Fourth Earl inherited the hereditary offices as above on the death of his father in 1526. He fought at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547 and later at the Siege of Haddington in 1548. The Fourth Earl was an early convert to Protestantism. Mary, Queen of Scots confirmed Archibald, Earl of Argyll in various lands including the Lands and Barony of Rosneath in 1545.

     A few years later, in December 1558, Archibald Campbell, Lord Lorne, only son and heir of Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll, was confirmed by Francis and Mary in the lands of Rosneath with its castle, mills, etcetera. While Archibald, the Fourth Earl, supported the Reformers, his eldest son Archibald, later the Fifth Earl, led the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots at the Battle of Langside.

     In 1573 the Campbells’ properties in Rosneath were increased by the acquisition of Little Ros, Meikle Ros, and Portkill, and confirmed by James VI. Throughout the seventeenth centuries the reigning monarchs all confirmed the Campbells of Argyll in the lands and barony of Rosneath.

     Another branch of the family was in possession of Rachean. By the early eighteenth century Archibald Campbell of Rachean, a writer (lawyer) in Edinburgh, was in possession of Rachean. John Campbell, third son of Archibald Campbell the Fourth of Rachean, was Commissioner of Supply for Dumbartonshire in 1715. Rachean returned to the Argyll Campbells in 1762 when Robert Campbell, the younger son of John Campbell of Ardkinglas, sold it to John Campbell, Second Lord of Mamore and Fifth Duke of Argyll.

     Archibald Campbell Gruamach, Seventh Earl of Argyll (1575-1638), is known for his actions against Clan Gregor. In 1593 he was given a commission of Justiciary against the MacGregors and another in 1598 which led to the execution of Alexander MacGregor, chief of the clan, and seven of the clan in Edinburgh in 1604. In 1611 he received a further commission against the MacGregors which he carried out to the extreme, with very few escaping the sword. In 1615 he was allocated a similar task in dealing with the MacDonalds. His persecution of the MacGregors and of the MacDonalds caused great animosity between him and the other clans. Archibald the Seventh Earl abandoned Scotland in favour of a commission in the service of Spain. He died in London in 1638.

     His son Archibald (1607-1664) became the Eighth Earl in 1638 on the death of his father. He surrendered the hereditary title of Justice-General of Scotland to the king but retained the office of Justiciar of Argyll and the Western Isles in 1633. During the period of the Covenant, Argyll took up arms against the Earls of Atholl and Ogilvie, who had risen in support of King Charles I. Argyll later commanded the Army of the Covenant in its campaign against the Royalist forces led by the Marquess of Montrose. At Inverlochy and at Kilsyth, Montrose outmaneuvered the Covenanters but was eventually defeated by them at Philiphaugh in 1645. Argyll, by now a Marquess, promoted the return of Charles II in 1650 and crowned him king at Scone in 1651.

     After the defeat of the Scots at Dunbar and later at Worcester by the Parliamentary forces, Argyll withdrew to Inveraray. On the Restoration of the House of Stuart in 1660, Argyll was taken prisoner on the basis of his cooperation with the Cromwellian military government of Scotland during the inter-regnum. Tried and declared guilty Archibald Campbell, Eighth Earl of Argyll, was beheaded at the Cross of Edinburgh on 27 May 1661, stripped of his titles and offices. During the period of his Earldom the ancient castle of Rosneath was renovated and became on of the two properties in Argyll used by the family.

     Archibald Campbell, Ninth Earl of Argyll (1629-1685), supported the House of Stuart by fighting against the Parliamentary forces at Dunbar. However after the Restoration he found that he was unwelcome at the royal court and became imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle. In 1662 he was sentenced to be beheaded but was later released. In 1663 his grandfather’s titles were returned to him, particularly the Earldom of Argyll, and further he was appointed a Privy Councillor and Commissioner of the Treasury. In 1666 he raised troops to suppress the Covenanter rising. Again in 1678 he was called upon by the government to take up arms against the MacLeans and to take possession of Mull.

     As a zealous Protestant Argyll had reservations about the policies of the Duke of York, King Charles II’s brother, who represented the Crown in Scotland from 1681 and it was his refusal to sign the Test Act which resulted in him being imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle later that year. Subsequently he was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. On 20 December 1681 he escaped from imprisonment and took refuge in Holland. There, he plotted with others to depose King James, formerly the Duke of York, with uprisings both in England under the Duke of Monmouth and in Scotland under Argyll. Both rebellions were doomed to failure. Argyll was captured and was executed in Edinburgh on 30 June 1685.

     Archibald his eldest son became the Tenth Earl in 1685 and later, during 1701, in appreciation of his significant public services, King William appointed him first Duke of Argyll. Archibald had gone to Holland sometime after his father’s death, and had accompanied the Prince of Orange on his invasion of England at the Glorious Revolution of 1688. In 1689 he raised a regiment called the Earl of Argyll’s Foot, the first Highland Regiment, which fought in Flanders until the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697. Some of its former officers and men were recruited to defend the Darien Colony, an unsuccessful attempt to found a trading settlement on the Isthmus of Panama in 1698. Some companies of the regiment were involved in the notorious Massacre of Glencoe in 1692. Argyll was appointed a Privy Councillor and a Commissioner of the Treasury in 1689, an Extraordinary Lord of Session in 1694, and Colonel of the Scots troop of Horse Guards in 1696. The First Duke of Argyll died in 1703.

     He was succeeded by his eldest son John as the Eleventh Earl of Argyll and the Second Duke of Argyll. John was primarily a soldier, though he held public office as a Privy Councillor, as an Extraordinary Lord of Session, and as High Commissioner to the Scots Parliament. He was honoured by Queen Anne by being appointed Earl of Greenwich and Baron of Chatham in 1705, and Duke of Greenwich in 1719 by King George I. His military career included a period as Brigadier General under Marlborough, and later Lieutenant General under Schuylenburg, fighting the French in Flanders. He was one of those who promoted the advent of the House of Hanover in 1714 on the death of Queen Anne, and opposed attempts by the Jacobites to bring back the House of Stuart. His leadership at the Battle of Sheriffmuir on 13 November 1715 halted the advance of the Jacobite army and effectively ended the rebellion. On 4 October 1743 he died and was succeeded by his brother Archibald.

     Archibald, the third Duke of Argyll (1682-1761), was educated at Glasgow and at Utrecht universities. Then he served in the army under the Duke of Marlborough, later he was appointed Colonel of the 36th Regiment and Governor of Dumbarton Castle. In 1706 he was one of the Commissioners of Union. The same year he became Earl and Viscount of Ilay, Lord Oransay, Dunoon and Arrase.

     On 16th April 1708 the Lands of Rachanemore (later “Meikle Rahane”) and Rachanebeg (later “Little Rahane”), and Knockderry-Balbour were erected into the Barony of Rachane by a Charter under the Great Seal in favour of Archibald Campbell of Rachane.

     Subsequently Archibald was made Lord Justice General of Scotland in 1710, and a Privy Councillor in 1711. As a supporter of the House of Hanover he fought at the Battle of Sheriffmuir against the Jacobites. Inveraray Castle was built during his period as Duke of Argyll. As he had no legitimate son, his titles passed to John Campbell, the eldest son of John Campbell of Mamore.

     John, the Fourth Duke of Argyll (1693-1770), was a career soldier. He fought in Flanders prior to the Treaty of Utrecht, then during the 1715 Rebellion was AdC to the Duke of Argyll and Greenwich, the then-military leader in Scotland. Colonel of the Scots Fusiliers in 1738, he took part in the Battle of Dettingen in Germany in 1741. In 1745 he was in Scotland fighting the Jacobites. By 1747 he was a Lieutenant General, commanding the Royal Scots Greys by 1752, then Governor of Limerick in 1761. Promoted to General in 1765, he became a Privy Councillor, a Knight of the Thistle, and died in London on 9 November 1770.

     As his eldest son Archibald had died at Rosneath of smallpox, the title fell on his second son John. John Campbell, Fifth Duke of Argyll (1723-1806). Duke John also had a military career. He too fought the Jacobites in 1745, and later had commissions in various mainly Highland regiments, rising to the rank of Commander of the Forces in Scotland and ultimately Field Marshal. He was an agricultural improver and first president of the Highland Society of Scotland. When the Duke died, he was followed by his second son George William, as his eldest son George John had died in infancy at Rosneath in 1764.

     George William Campbell, Sixth Duke of Argyll (1768-1839), had King George III, Queen Charlotte and also the Duke of Gloucester as sponsors at his baptism. He had a career in the public service, being a Member of Parliament, then Vice Admiral of the Western and Northern Isles, and a Privy Councillor.

     In 1802 the Castle of Rosneath was virtually completely destroyed by fire. The next year the ruined castle began to be replaced by a construction of a completely new design. Since the mid-eighteenth century the Duke of Argyll had made significant improvements to his property, particularly in and around Inveraray. Formerly the Duke had employed leading Scots architects such as John, James, and Robert Adam, or William and Robert Mylne, but for the replacement of Rosneath Castle he chose the London architect Joseph Bonomi.

     On his death in 1839 the Sixth Duke of Argyll having no legitimate offspring, the titles fell to John Douglas Edward Henry Campbell (1777-1847), third son of John Campbell, the Fifth Duke. John, Sixth Duke of Argyll, fought against the French in Holland before entering Parliament. He was Colonel of the Argyll and Bute Militia, and Fellow of the Royal Societies of London and of Edinburgh. On his death the titles fell to his second son George Douglas Campbell.

     George Douglas Campbell, the Eighth Duke of Argyll (1823-1900) followed a career in politics. He held various government positions under several Liberal administrations, such as Lord Privy Seal, Postmaster General, and Secretary of State for India. A committed member of the Church of Scotland, he gifted the island of Iona, including its ancient abbey with its connections to St Columba, to its care. He received various honours such as Knight of the Thistle and Knight of the Garter, as well as filling a number of prominent offices, including Chancellor of the University of St. Andrew’s, President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and Trustee of the British Museum.

     His eldest son John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland (1845-1914) became the Ninth Duke of Argyll in 1900. He too filled many public offices with distinction, including President of the Council for India 1868-1871, and Governor General of Canada 1878-1883. His wife was Princess Louise, fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. Princess Louise’s favourite Argyll residence was Rosneath Castle, which had been reconstructed in the early nineteenth century in a Gothic cum Roman-Italian style.

     He was succeeded by his nephew Niall Diarmid Campbell (1872-1949) as the Tenth Duke of Argyll, who in turn was succeeded by his first cousin John Douglas Campbell (1903-1973) as Eleventh Duke of Argyll. In 1973 his eldest son Ian Campbell (1937-) became the Twelfth Duke of Argyll.

     The main claim of Rosneath Castle to fame in the twentieth century is the fact that in 1944 it was used by Churchill, Eisenhower, and Montgomery to plan the invasion of France in 1944. However the Castle of Rosneath is no longer in existence having been demolished in 1962.

     In November 1941 the Barony of Rachane was disponed by the Trustees of the Eleventh Duke of Argyll (then a prisoner of war in Germany) to the first in a series of legal caretakers, concluding in January 2004 with its disposition to Michael, 13th Baron of Rachane, of Clan Campbell.

     In 2000 the Abolition of Feudal Tenure Act concluded all the land-tenure aspects of the Scottish feudal system as at 28th November 2004. The effect upon baronies was to end their superior/vassal attachment to specific areas of land, while continuing and preserving them as titles in the Noblesse of Scotland. The present Baron and Baroness of Rachane have decided to remanifest the Barony towards charitable support of animal protection, rescue, and welfare. It is Recorded in the Register of Sasines, Scotland and recognised on behalf of the Crown by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. In the United States it is also now a Registered Trademark with both the California Secretary of State and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

    In 2007 a Fellowship of the Barony of Rachane was inaugurated, to formally appreciate and honour ladies and gentlemen of dignity, wisdom, enlightenment, and accomplishment in their lives and interests as known to the Baron and Baroness. Fellows are presented with the Crest Badge of the Barony, which it is hoped will become a symbol of benevolence and good will, in the once and future tradition of Scotland.

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