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Bonamargy Friary Cemetery

The McNaughten family


Close to the entrance to the O’Donnell vault there is a monument to the founder of the Irish McNaughten family. The inscription reads: ‘Heire lyeth the bodie of Ihn McNachton sectarie to Randal, First Erle of Antrim, who departed this mortalitie in the year of Our Lord 1630’.


The Clan MacNaghten traced their descent from the leaders of the Picts in Scotland. The family was granted a large area of Strath Tay in the twelfth century and the chieftains were styled Thanes of Tay. Sir Alexander McNaghten died at Flodden Field along with his Monarch and ‘the flower of Scottish nobility’ in 1513. His eldest son, whose name is not known, married Anne McLean, a granddaughter of Sorley Boy MacDonnell and therefore a niece of Randal MacDonnell, the first Earl of Antrim.


Anne’s eldest son died without issue and the second son, Malcolm, inherited the family title and property in Scotland. Her third son, Shane Dhu [Black John], came to Antrim in 1580 where he worked as secretary to his great uncle for 50 years. There is no extant record of a lease of land from the Antrim estate to Black John. It is possible that the land, at Benvarden, near Dervock, leased by the second Earl in 1637 to Daniel, Black John’s son, may have been a renewal of an existing lease. Later leases established the McNaghten family at Beardiville, near Coleraine and a descendent acquired Dunderave, near Bushmills, by marriage to a cousin. Dunderave was named after the final McNaghten family home in Scotland.


The clan chieftain in Scotland remained loyal to the Stuart King James II and VII and fought with Bonny Dundee against Prince William of Orange at the battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 and as a result his property and title were forfeited. It was not until 1818 that the then senior member of the Irish family was persuaded to accept the clan leadership and it eventually passed in 1832 to Sir Francis Workman McNaghten of Runkerry House.

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