The Siol Gorrie by R. Maclagan Gorrie

The name Gorrie recurs repeatedly in ancient Celtic records as a Gaelicised form of the Scandinavian Gudfroor or Gofrid. Kenneth Macalpine married a Gorrie’s sister, so he may have helped to cement the entente between Picts and Scots.

When surnames were still considered unnecessary: Gorrie was a common name amongst both Irish and Dalriadans; it is still common in the Isle of Man today as “Orree”. It also arose as an indigenous Norse version in the Orkneys, where it is spelt with one “R”, whereas the Hebridean form has two. Some of the clan books would have us believe that it is the same as the Lowland Perthshire “Gowrie,” but the broad “OW” is not a typical Gaelic sound.

R.F. Black in his Surnames at Scotland gives for MacGorrie: “Settled in Logiealmond 400 years ago; now used as Goraidh or Gorrie, a common name in the west Highlands especially among Macdonalds and MacLeods. Descent is from Gorrie, the youngest son of “Good John of Isla” who died in 1380.

The main stream of present day Gorries appears to be in Clan Donald, although the Lamonts and MacAlisters have also used it. The Clan Donald accepts the link between the Logiealmond Gorries and the descendants of Siol Gorrie of North Uist.

The “decay”‘ of the Siol Gorrie reported by Gregory and repeated by Adam’s Clans was actually a battle at Cnoc Salltran in 1469 when the Siol Vuruchie of Clan Murchaid beat the Siol Gorrie in a tribal quarrel.

Gorries remained on the island of Vallay, on the north-west coast of North Uist until about 1620, but by that time they had become tenants of the Sleat chiefs, and no longer owned any land.

A number of possible reasons can be advanced for their moving out:

1. There had been so much sea erosion that their holdings in Vallay, Baleshare and Balranald must have suffered heavily.

2. Some were put to the horn and escheated for sharing in a disreputable looting of a barque “Susannah” which was blown off its course from St Malo to Limerick and sought harbourage in Uist.

3. The Augustinian monks from Innerpeffray and Inchaffray in Logiealmond established a daughter priory at Carinish in North Uist thus forming a direct link between these two districts.

4. A Gorrie of Vallay was invited by the Keppoch men to enter for the vacant Keppoch chiefship in 1498. He was not chosen but settled in Tirnadrish in Lochaber and lived there till 1548, leaving numerous progeny.

5. Others of the name took service under Clanranald to fight in Ireland and raid the Mackenzies in Kintail and the Campbells in Glenlyon.

The first records of them turning up in Logielmond as residents rather than unwelcome visitors are in 1631 and 1642 when William son of Donald Gorrie is charged with “hamesucken” of John Gok, and on another date with wrongful imprisonment of John McAgo. But by 1681 Thomas Gorrie was captain of the watch of Logiealmond – incidentally the earliest record of a watch formation, the Black Watch not being formed till 13 years later. The main centre in Logiealmond seems to have been a “ferm toon” variously spelt Condocloich, Culnaclich, Culnanwhick, Condachloch and Culnacloich, where various families were raised until about 1800 when there was a local population explosion which scattered them into Crieff. Perth and Dundee.