At the dawn of history, the western islands of what is now Scotland were populated by a group of Aryan people known as the Celts. They were a nomadic race who had originated in Asia. Also known as Gaels, they had trekked slowly across India and Asia Minor and once were so numerous at one location that one area was called "Galatia''. These people slowly but deliberately spread northward over Europe and finally reached the northern shores of what is now France. This hearty race soon established themselves in northwest Ireland.
In Ireland, these tough Celts were known as "Scots". Their language was a composite of basic utterances acquired over centuries of migrations through strange lands and was called "Gaelic" meaning "Stranger". The clothing was primitive and consisted of the hides of animals wrapped around the loins and draped over the shoulders. This mode of crude dress was "Celtic" or "kilted". By necessity, they were required to live together in small groups or families for distribution of work and procurement of food. Each group controlled a certain portion of land; thus the clan society originated. Another peculiarity was their music which was centered around a device composed of a sheepskin bag which emitted a background drone through hollow pipes while the musician played a tune through mouth instrument; the entire apparatus was called a "bagpipe".
In the Sixth Century, three Celtic princes, also brothers, from Ireland, descendents of a celebrated leader Carbre-Riada, invaded the nearby islands to the northeast and portions of the adjacent mainland known then as Caledonia. Carving out empires for themselves, the princes formed the kingdom of Dalrida, so-named in honor of their ancestor. These Dalriadic Scots intermingled with the preexisting peoples known as the Picts, a prehistoric tribe from across the North Sea. About this time, the Scots and Picts were converted from their primeval religions to Christianity by missionaries from Ireland.
One of the princes, Angus, claimed as part of his realm a wild rocky island a few miles off the coast. The island, 30 miles long and eight miles wide, was constricted at the center by a narrow isthmus, and had three mountains on the southwest portion. The highest peak was 2600 feet in elevation and these "Paps"
were visible from the sea at great distances. On the island's northern straits was a gigantic open-sea whirlpool composed of boiling, treacherous waters. The eastern coastline was generally calm, but the wind-swept western shores featured raised beaches and numerous caves. Surely Angus must have longed for the green of Ireland as he stood on the foreboding quartzite terrain. The island was known to the Dalriads as "Hinba"; however, years later the Norse would give it the name "Jura" from "dyr Oe" meaning "deer island", since the place was inhabited by hundreds of red deer. Another source states that Jura was named after the Danish brothers Dih and Rah who killed each other and were buried there.
In 608 A.D., the kingship of Dalriada fell to Eochaid or Eugene IV, a blond-haired Scot. Because of this physical feature, he also wore the name "Buidhe" from the Gaelic word meaning the color yellow. This nickname was also designated to persons of sallow complexion. Buidhe is pronounced in Gaelic "boo-ee" and was sometimes shortened, when written, to "Buie". Eochaid Buidhe led his Scots against the Saxons and successfully defended the kingdom until his death in 621 A.D. Although none of his descendents continued the name "Buidhe", Eochaid is the first person in history known and documented to have used it.
After a period of time, the Scots and Picts merged to form one nation known as Scotland. However, the western islands were soon threatened by the Norsemen who initially robbed and plundered the inhabitants. Later, these northerners settled on the islands, including Jura, and intermarried with the Scots. The Norse contrib-uted to the people of the islands their striking blond hair, blue eyes and their seamanship abilities.
Out of this Norse-Celtic race came Somerled. His name was Norse, but his father's, Gille Brighde, was Gaelic. Somerled conquered much of the western lands and was an arch-foe of Malcolm IV, King of Scotland. The daughter of the Norse King of Man became Somerled's wife, and after his death in 1164, one son, Dugald, controlled Jura. However, another son, Reginald, was favored and Reginald's son Donald was the progenitor of the great Clan Donald. After visiting Norway, Donald was granted sovereignty over "the Isles". There followed many generations of wars which eventuated in the expulsion of Norse influence in Scotland in 1266, and in 1354 Clan Donald was granted vast lands on the mainland and the islands. Their leader was known as Lord of the Isles.
Socio-economic order in the Highlands of early Scotland revolved around the clan system. The mountainous geography divided the people naturally into small autonomous communities. These sequestered populations were headed by a chief whose role was law-giver, judge, and military leader. His subjects were granted land or assigned jobs in return for their loyalty and allegiance to the tribal chieftain. Some of these followers could claim blood relationship to the chief; others were related by marriage, but many were not related and were allied to him for protection. Also, the people were expected to respond to the clan leader's call and follow him into battle against any adversary or enemy. The clans were sometimes connected to each other by alliances which on occasion were quite complex, and the poor serfs were sometimes required to fight for the feudal masters to fulfil the latter's political obligations. To help distinguish which clan each member belonged, the groups adopted a particular tartan composed of stripes of different hues which was worn in the kilted fashion of the ancient Celts. Every clan had their own pipe tunes, armorial bearings, slogans and war cries. Different branches or subdivisions of a clan, whether descended from a common ancestor or simply allied to the chief, were known as septs.
Traditionally, surnames were introduced into Scotland in the last half of the Eleventh Century by King Malcolm III. Many adopted the name of an ancestor and simply added the Gaelic "mac" which meant "son of". For example, the descendents of Donald used the surname "McDonald". The heirs of Donald's son Alasdair adopted the name "McAlister". T he children of a man named Robert might be called "Robertson". Others took names which described their occupations. The son of the parson became "McPherson". The hereditary wolf hunters of a clan were known as "McHeanich", anglicized to "Shaw", meaning "son of the wolf". The local clerk's boy became "McChleirich" which was shortened to "Chleirich" and finally anglicized to "Clark". Many people adopted the name of their particular locality or an outstanding geographical feature. Thus, those who lived by a large hill or knob might have taken the name "Knox". Since their chief was the Earl of Crawford, some of the Lindseys used the surname "Crawford". The people living in the district of Gowrie became McGorrys or McRorys. And finally, there were some who used as surname which described a physical characteristic or oddity. The children of a grizzled man were called "McIlriah" from the Gaelic meaning "gray" later anglicized to "Darroch". The son of the black-haired lad was known as "McIlledhuibh" or the short form of "Black" in English. The prefix "ille" or "gille" was used commonly and was synonymous with "junior".
On the mainland of Scotland from a very early time when surnames were first used, some persons in various locations and in different periods of time adopted the surname "Buidhe" because of their blond hair or fair features. Buidhe was pure Gaelic form. In some areas of the Highlands, the name was anglicized to "Buie" and in the Lowlands close to the English border the name was "Bowie" to better accommodate the English phonetics. Other spellings included Bowey, Boule, Boy, Buy, Bouwie, Buoy, Boie, Bouy, Boye, Bui, Bhuie. Occasionally, patronymic forms in various combinations appeared such as McGillibuidhe, McIlbowie, or McGhillebuie. Some anglicized versions of these patronyms were McIlvuy, McEvoy, and McVeagh. The name was not only used for persons; also, localities utilizing the descriptive color of yellow incorporated also the Gaelic "buidhe". Hence, the yellow-tinged inlet lake on the Isle of Mull was named "Lochbuie". Similar place names dotted the map of Scotland including Ballochbuie, Killbuie, and Slachbuie.