Duke of Argyll

Peer to Pier: Conversations with fellow travelers

The Duke of Argyll

In late October, I had the pleasure of speaking with His Grace the Duke of Argyll at his family ancestral home Inveraray Castle on the west coast of Scotland. Born Torquhil Ian Campbell, among the 29 titles His Grace holds, he particularly prizes his designation as 28th MacCailein Mor, the 35th Chief of Clan Campbell.

He is the son of Sir Ian Campbell, 12th Duke of Argyll and Iona Mary Colquhoun, the daughter of Sir Ivar Iain Colquhoun of Luss 8th BT, Chief of Clan Colquhoun. From 1980 to 1983, he was a Page of Honour to Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II. His Grace, the Duke, was educated at Glenalmond College, Perthshire, Scotland, as was his father before him. He then went on to the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, where he was awarded a diploma in Rural Estate Management. He took a post as Assistant Land Agent for the Duke of Buccleuch at the Buccleuch Estates near Selkirk in the Scottish Borders where he remained from 1991 to 1993. The following two years were spent in London working as a sales manager for the Grosvenor House Hotel. In 1995 he joined the French company Pernod Ricard, with which he is still affiliated.

A focus of my two visits to Scotland this year was the country’s clan culture. The concept of “belonging” has always fascinated me and it was a privilege to speak to the head of the world’s second-largest such extended family. My meeting with His Grace happened to occur just weeks after my mother passed away, and his observations about the importance of valuing both individual strengths as well as family heritage were particularly poignant and meaningful for me. The conversation with His Grace was a reminder that while there are many branches of mankind’s family tree, we are all rooted in our shared human condition.

Photo Courtesy of Inveraray Castle

Photo courtesy of Inveraray Castle

Meg: It’s my understanding that most Scottish clans can claim among their ancestors a mix of different races that include the Picts, the Celts, Viking and Norse raiders and Norman and Flemish knights. Could you tell me about the Campbell clan ancestry?

Duke of Argyll: I have a very unique position. I am a direct descendent of the ancient high kings of Ireland from the Hill of Tara in the 7th century.  When I wear my dress kilt jackets, on it I wear silver salmon buttons; the silver salmon is the emblem of the ancient high kings of Ireland. The ancient kingdom of Dalriada, was ruled by the Irish kings. Their capital was Dunadd in the Kilmartin glen, which is a little bit further down the road from here. The Kilmartin glen is one of the most important archeological sites in Scotland with around 350 ancient monuments of which 150 are prehistoric.

I can therefore claim that my ancestors have been around for some time. The Campbells as a family came to notoriety in the late 1200s with Cailean Mor Caimbeul, also known as Sir Colin Campbell of Loch Awe and then grew to be what is arguably one of the most numerous Scottish families. The Vikings had a huge influence on the coastal regions of Scotland really through rape and pillage. My name is Torquhil, which is a deviation of the son of Thor, so there is still that Viking heritage there. I got the name through my mother’s side, who had a brother called Torquhil.

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9 thoughts on “Duke of Argyll”

  1. Meg,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. I’ve always been drawn to Scotland. One day I’ll return to the land of my ancestors.
    What a coup ~ to have the opportunity to interview the Duke. Stunning!

    Happy trails…
    love,
    Connie

    1. Hi Connie! SO glad to see you have dropped by…and that this interview resonated! I was particularly impressed with his sense of how important it is that we each maintain our individuality even as we are part of something bigger than ourselves! And as far as your desire to get to Scotland, I have one word: GO! : )

  2. Terrific interview, Meg.
    The Clan system in Scotland has always fascinated me, the concept of extended family connection by name stretching out far past the immediate members. I thought the Duke of Argyl gave the reader an interesting peek into his world and what it involves (not all fun and games). Seemed like a pretty down to earth guy.
    Enjoyed the read immensely!

    1. Thanks Bobbi! I know you share my entusiasm for all things Scottish and I too find the clan systm particularly intriguing. His Grace certainly conveyed the keen sense of responsibility that comes with the role of clan chief. So glad to hear you enjoyed the piece!

  3. Hi Meg,

    As a newcomer to this type of communication I was fascinated and enthralled by your interview. With Scottish ancestry myself, I was able to immerse myself totally in the
    history/story and to relive and understand why my visit to Scotland last year touched a deep corner of my soul as well as thrilling my senses.

    Thank you sincerely.

  4. I enjoyed this interview myself as history is a favourite subject of mine as I’m of Scots, Scandinavian and Irish descent on my mother’s side of the family, through both my great grand father, one Owen Campbell, who’s father’s side lived in Ireland from the 17th Centuary prior to emigrating first to Liverpool and then to a work house in Morpeth, Northumbria were my Great Grandfather Owen was born and later married my great grand mother, Sarah Ann Armstrong,( in the timber trade), who lived in Morpeth as well. I know they moved to Middlegarth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne as all ten my great uncles and aunts arrived in quick succession!

  5. I just saw this or a similar interview on 20/20 in the U.S. I found it extremely interesting as I have been told all my life that we are descendants of The Duke Argyle and had 8 beautiful sterling spoons in our family enscribed with the family name Campbell in the bowl of each spoon.

    I have been trying to research this for sometime and this interview gave me some valuable information. Thanks.

  6. As a Scot, born in Scotland, it is so very disappointing when you here an interview
    with the likes of the Duke of Argyll (with all due respect) with a very proper English
    ascent…. the Irony of this is not lost on most true Scots….lol Then again, we are talking
    about the Campbell’s, and not the Mcdonalds. Its funny… you try and find out where
    he was born… this really takes some research. Its almost as if he is ashamed of being
    Scottish.

  7. This was amazing to me! My family has done some research and we have also been link to the Duke of Argyll. I live in the U.S and have always been fascinated with our family history since my father used to tell me stories about them when I was a little girl. I would love nothing more then to take a trip to Scotland and see where my family is from. I have always felt like I belonged there more so then here. I read a lot of stories both fiction and non and a lot of what I read pertains in one way or another to our family. It only spikes my interest even more. I am determined to get there. I will one day.

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