Clan MacBean/MacBain: Gillies MacBean
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There are several possible Gaelic origins for this name, but the most likely appears to be 'bheathain', meaning 'lively one'. According to tradition, the ancestor of the Macbains, a noble scion of the royal house of Macbeth, sought out his kin among the descendants of Gillichattan Mor, more commonly called the Clan Chattan, after Malcolm IV finally broke the unruly remnants of the Mormaers of Moray.
The Macbains supported the Jacobite rising of 1715, and many were transported to the plantations in Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina after the Stuart defeat. This did not deter Gillies Mor Macbean, grandson of the 12th chief, from taking up a commission as major to fight for Bonnie Prince Charlie, the 'Young Pretender'. At the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Gillies, a giant of a man said to be at least 6 ft 4 in, distinguished himself as he personally attempted to prevent Government dragoons breaking through to assault the Highlanders in the flank. He died in the attempt but not before he had taken 14 of the enemy with him. After Culloden the chief struggled to keep the remaining clan lands together, and they were finally sold in 1760. In more recent times, the chiefly line has flourished, first in Canada and now in the United States. The chiefs have retrieved some of the clan lands, establishing a memorial park on the shores of Loch Ness.
R. R. McIan described his figure thus:
"The figure is intended to represent the undaunted Gillies, dealing out his deadly blows on those who successively advanced through the breach in the wall. Those who witness the parade of troops on review, the music playing, and the columns going through the various evolutions with mechanical precision, amid the swelling notes of martial music, every individual being so clean and neatly dressed, are apt to believe that in the field of battle it is much the same. On these deadly occasions, however, there is often no time for nicety, and as in this case, the army having been the previous night occupied in a harassing march to surprise the royal camp, we may well believe that the Highlanders in general did not present a very smart appearance. In the turmoil of battle, caps and bonnets, arms and accoutrements, are scattered about, and the combatants are only intent on achieving a triumph. The figure is painted in the tartan of the MacIntoshes, which, as major of that battalion, Mac Bean would appropriately wear. The Highlanders were fond of ornament, and solicitous to have rich lace, silver buckles and buttons, &c., that should they fall in battle, or die at a distance from home, there might be sufficient value in their clothing to defray the expense of a respectable funeral."
The figurine weighs just over 0.66 kilos. It stands 16cm tall, on a base rougly 10cm by 5cm.