A branch of the great clan Alpine, the name MacQuarrie derives from the gaelic ‘guaire’ meaning “noble”. According to tradition, Guaire was the brother of Fingon, the progenitor of the MacKinnon clan. Both clans, linked in a common descent, went on to become dependent on the Lords of the Isles.
The MacQuarrie chiefs had their seat in Ulva, which lies close to the island of Mull. The first historical record of the MacQuarrie clan is Iain of Ulva who witnessed a charter of the Lord of the Isles in 1463.
As a supporter of the Lord, the chief of the clan MacQuarrie was one of the chiefs summoned to Iona by James VI in 1609 and forced to sign the infamous Statutes of Iona. This effectively ended the reign of the Lords of the Isles.
The MacQuarrie clansmen allied themselves to the MacLean clan, but this led to disaster when the chief of Ulva and many of his men died fighting with the MacLeans for Charles II at Inverkeithing.
Dr. Johnson and Boswell, on their famous tour of Scotland in the eighteenth century, visited Ulva and stayed with Lachlan MacQuarrie, the chief of the clan. Boswell was agreeably surprised by Lachlan and found him to be “intelligent, polite and much a man of the world”. Five years after this visit, Lachlan MacQuarrie was forced by financial necessity to sell the family seat of the clan.
MacQuarrie Clan History