Chasing down our Family History

Father’s Day was super fun and special for all of us in different ways. One of the projects I have enjoyed working on is the family history for both sides of the family. I completed it years ago on my side, but just started working on in over the last year for Craig’s family in anticipation of this trip. I can easily spend a full day on tracing down ancient family history.

I had lots of help on this project from a man I knew only briefly, Craig’s grandfather, Kenneth Maccubbin (Grandpop), who loved to document the history of the Maccubbin side, especially Nicolas Maccubbin, a famous relative who was a wealthy land owner in Baltimore and who played a large role in financing the Revolutionary War. And several generations before Nicolas, we had John Maccubbin known as John the colonist, who left Scotland for America in an argument with his father over religion.

But it was John the colonist and his father, Laird (Lord) Fergus Maccubbin, that we spent Father’s Day trying to find. Laird Fergus Maccubbin was the Lord of an area called Knockdolian. The Knockdolian castle still exists in ruins on private property outside a small town called Colmonell. John was born in the castle and as the story goes, Laird Fergus Maccubbin also established the family burial vault in the cemetery of the Church of Colmonell in 1663.

So we headed out on Father’s Day to find both the church (and the cemetery) as well as the castle. To be honest, I expected we would either find gold, or it would be a total dead end. We were after all looking for history that is over 300 years old and in ruins. Our path landed us at the church, as they were just finishing up morning services. We met a wonderful lady who was locking up and asked us what name we were looking for on the gravestones. I told her “Maccubbin.” “Let me check the book,” she said.

After a few moments she came out to tell us there were no Maccubbins in the book. “But” she said, “There is a vault in the back of the cemetery. It is really old and locked. It is currently used by the Duke of Wellington for his family. But Billy Maccubbin (a local resident), swears his relatives are buried under there.”

We headed back to the cemetery and sure enough there it was. Carved at the top of the entrance was 1663 and a picture of a coat of arms. From my research on

Fergus McCubbin erected the tomb of the Knockdolian family in the church yard of Colmonell in 1663, and bears the armorial standards of the McCubbin’s.

So after we paid our respects to our ancestors, we moved on to see where they lived. The nice lady at the church, said it wasn’t against the law to enter someone’s private property as long as we were respectful of their stuff, so an unnamed member of our family took her up on this when we got to the castle and jumped a stone wall to get some better pictures. However, in this case the property they entered was owned by the Duke and Duchess of Wellington.

We all made it out just fine and a few unnamed members of the family got some great pictures of the ancestral home of the Maccubbins, Knockdolian Castle. I’m posting one from the internet, but when they are available from the other cameras, I will post them here as well.

While we didn’t get to bring Donald on this trip with us I know that he would have loved, loved, loved this portion of our journey. Grandpop would have too! And while I have not been a member of this family for that long compared to the rest of these folks (only 18 years), it was super fun for me to see all this history as well.


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2 responses to “Chasing down our Family History

  1. Severn H Kirchem

    I’m also a Descendant of John the Colonist in Maryland, I came Across this Article do you Take more pictures of the Tomb of Fergus McCubbin??


  2. I believe we are related. My family are also descendants of John Maccubbin and I had the pleasure of visiting Knockdolian several years ago. I enjoyed reading about your experience. Small world!
    Bonnie Maccubbin—

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