BADGE: Garbhag an t-sleibh (lycopodium sclago) fir club moss
According to Highland record and tradition the great Clan Campbell took its origin about the beginning of the twelfth century with the marriage of Gillespie Campbell with Eva, daughter of the Treasurer of Scotland, Paul O'Duin, Chief of the race of the famous Diarmid. This marriage made the Campbells lords of Lochow. Half a century later, in the reign of Malcolm IV, Duncan Campbell of Lochow had a younger son, Iver, who became the ancestor of the separate clan of that name. This was a hundred years before the birth of the great Sir Colin Campbell of Lochow, knighted by Alexander III, and slain on the Sraing of Lorne, from whom the Campbell chiefs to-day take the patronymic of MacCailein Mor. A different origin is given in Principal Campbell's book Clan Iver, published about 1870. That author makes out that the Maclvers were holding lands as a distinct and separate clan in Argyll prior to any Campbells being known there, having come from Glenlyon in Perthshire about 1222 and having been awarded lands in return for services rendered in the conquest of Argyll at that period. The MacIvers, however, maintained allegiance to the House of Argyll. In turn they were regarded with high affection and were entrusted with such posts as the Keepership of Inveraray Castle after that stronghold was built in the middle of the fifteenth century.
In 1564 Archibald, fifth Earl of Argyll, he who commanded Queen Mary's forces at the battle of Langside, recognised the separate authority of the MacIver chiefs. By formal deed the Earl resigned all direct claim upon the MacIver dependants. The document declared that the Earl relinquished for ever, to his cousin Iver MacIver and his successors, of "his awin frie motife, uncompellit, and for special cause and favours", all "ryght, title, and kyndnes, quhatsomever, we, or our predecessoris had, has: or in any manner of way may claim, of the calpis aucht and wont to come to our house of the surname of MacEver with power to use, uplift, intromit, and uptak the said calpis to thair awin utilitie and profite, and to dispone thairupon as they sall think expedient, as anie uther freehalder, and as we was wont to do of before, providing that we haif the said Ever's calpe".
The "calpe", it should perhaps be mentioned, was a death duty, in the shape of a horse, cow, ox, or other chattel, payable to a chief out of the possessions of a deceased clansman. The fact that the calpe of MacIver himself remained to be paid to Argyll, was an acknowledgment that the MacIvers were a branch or sept of the Campbell clan.
The original possessions of the MacIvers were Lergachonzie, Ashnish on Loch Melfort, and certain lands in Cowal. To these they made great additions, while branches of the family settled as far afield as Caithness, Invernessshire, and the Lewis. They are said to have been expelled from Glen Lyon in the end of the fourteenth century by Cuilean Cursta, the fierce Wolf of Badenoch. The Chiefs also held the honourable office of Crowner within a certain district. In the middle of the seventeenth century, however, the properties of the MacIvers suffered considerable alienation. A Chief of that time, Gillespie Ban MacIver, had an only daughter, whom he married to Campbell of Barchbeyan, ancestor of the Campbells of Craignish, and by way of dowrie he bestowed on her the lands of Lergachonzie and others. From that date the MacIver Chiefs were known as of Ashnish only. At the same time Gillespie Ban, having no male heir, resigned the rest of the family possessions to his cousin, "a man of remarkable courage and intrepidity". The latter was heir-male to Duncan MacIver of Stronshira, and so the two estates of Stronshira and Ashnish came into the same hands.
In the latter part of the same century the MacIvers suffered a still more serious eclipse. It was the time of the Solemn League and Covenant. The Marquess of Argyll, as head of the Covenanters and opponent of King Charles I, had misused his powers for the extinction of the hereditary rivals of his house, such as the Macdonalds of Kintyre, and Macdougalls of Gylen and Dunolly, and the Lamonts of Cowal, and at the Restoration he had been brought to trial and executed. His son Archibald, the ninth Earl, who was restored to the family estates and honours in 1663, got into similar trouble eighteen years later. In 1681 he refused to sign the Test Act, was found guilty of treason, and sentenced to death. While awaiting execution in Edinburgh Castle he contrived to escape disguised as a page, holding up the train of his stepdaughter, Lady Sophia Lindsay, and reached Holland.
Four years later simultaneously with the rising of the Duke of Monmouth in the south of England, Argyll landed in the Kyles of Bute and raised the standard of rebellion against James VII and II. He was promptly joined by Iver MacIver, chief of that clan, at the head of a hundred men. After crossing the Water of Leven, however, the expedition went to pieces in a night march over Dunbarton Muir, and the Earl was captured at Inchinnan, and earned to Edinburgh, to sleep the "last sleep of Argyll". The Argyll estates were then forfeited to the Crown, and MacIver's possessions suffered the same fate. After the Revolution in 1689, however, the Argyll forfeiture was rescinded, and MacIver obtained a new grant of his lands from Archibald, the tenth Earl and first Duke of Argyll. This grant contained a serious stipulation. In the deed of 1564 by which the fifth Earl recognised the chiefship, it had been stipulated that the heads of the house should be known, not as Campbells but as MacIvers. The new grant changed this. For his favour the Duke imposed the condition that MacIver's son, Duncan, and his heirs, should assume the name of Campbell, and should quarter the Campbell arms with their own.
This Duncan MacIver or Campbell of Ashnish, who was the eighth Chief, married a daughter of MacAlastair of Loup, and distinguished himself in the early years of the eighteenth century by his well-directed exertions to "civilise" the Highlanders. His second son and successor married Catherine Campbell, daughter of the Captain of Dunstaffnage, and his son and heir, again, Angus Campbell of Ashnish, the tenth Chief, who was spoken of for a century afterwards with great respect, married Elizabeth, daughter of MacLachlan of Craigentary, and had six sons, all of whom attained honourable positions in life, as well as four daughters who married well, and all had families. The eldest of these sons, Robert Campbell of Ashnish, attained an excellent reputation as an advocate in the Court of Session. He married in 1769 a daughter of Mail of Maghide in Lancashire, but had only one daughter.
Mcanwhile, apart from the main body of the clan, a branch which had settled in Lochaber had attached itself to the following of Macdonald of Keppoch. From the patrimony of its progenitors in Argyll it was often referred to as the race of MacIver Glasrich, which name in time was shortened to MacGlasrich. In the keen spirit of clanship this race maintained its separate identity, and at the battle of Culloden, though acting under Keppoch, they insisted on being drawn up as a separate clan, under their own officers. They also, mindful of their origin and of the fact that they wore the Campbell tartan and carried the Campbell colours, refused to be marshalled in such a position as would have compelled them to engage the Argyll militia.
In his first great romance of Waverley Sir Walter Scott introduced as a tragic figure the handsome young Fergus MacIver, who looked to a success of the Jacobite cause to enable him to realise certain dreams of setting up an independent chiefship and founding a clan. It is usually supposed that Scott's model for this personage was the handsome young Glengarry, whose visits to the Scottish capital in full Highland panoply and with a formidable "tail" of clansmen created something of a sensation at that time. But Scott could not have been unaware of the existence of an actual MacIver Chief, and of the disabilities under which he lay in being compelled to use the name Campbell. This seems a much more likely suggestion for the character of Fergus MacIver than that which has been commonly accepted.
In August, 1919, Captain MacIver Campbell of Ballochyle wrote from Vancouver as follows: "As far as my family is concerned our title deeds were all in the name of MacIver until 1599, when they appear as MacIver or Campbell and then gradually as Campbell only. My father, the late Lieutenant-Colonel William Rose Campbell of Ballochyle, when entailing the property, made it imperative that the laird should take the name of MacIver-Campbell so as to preserve the ancient patronymic of the family".