School of Divinity

The all-Campbell match

An inter-Campbell alliance was of significance to Clan Campbell as a whole and to its chief, Argyll. Significantly, the matchmakers replied to Kate alone.

Forging an alliance

It is not clear precisely why 1570 was chosen as the moment to propose an alliance between the Campbells of Ardkinglas and Glenorchy since the intended bride and groom were young children, and the marriage was not solemnised until 29 March 1586 (GD112/23/2/10-11; Clan Campbell 6 47).

Ardkinglas was probably anxious to secure a future wife for his only child and heir apparent and looked to the Glenorchy or senior branch of his own wife's family, the Campbells of Lawers. This generational shift from the cadet to the main branch of the house of Glenorchy reflected James' own enhanced status.

When succeeding his uncle in 1563, he had been promoted from the minor lairdship of Drongie to become head of the important Campbell house of Ardkinglas.

Endogamous marriages were becoming more frequent among the Campbells, though in this period more common among the minor than the major cadet families.

An inter-Campbell alliance was important to the whole clan and its chief, Argyll acted as the main matchmaker assisted by the groom's uncle, John Carswell, the leading Protestant cleric in the Highlands.

Carswell, a close friend of Kate and Colin (GD112/39/9/16) was also a member of the Gaelic learned orders who traditionally acted as negotiators. The matchmakers' task proved simple. Significantly, they negotiated with Kate specifically, though they had received separate letters from Grey Colin and Katherine probably outlining different aspects of the marriage conditions (GD112/39/11/3 also see GD112/39/12/16).

A final agreement led to the signing of the ante-nuptial contract on 23 July 1571 (GD112/25/31-33, 37).