The MacGill Society USA

Chief of the Name

Sir George Hubbard Makgill, Viscount of Oxfuird, 13th Baronet of Nova Scotia
George Hubbard Makgill, the 13th Viscount of Oxfuird, succeeded his uncle, the 12th Viscount in 1986. The 13th Viscount of Oxfuird died on 3 January 2003. [1934 - 2003]

He is survived by his wife and four sons. The title passes to his eldest son Ian Makgill, the Master of Oxfuird.

Lord Oxfuird has four sons: twins, Ian Arthur, Master of Oxfuird and Robert Edward; Hamish Alister; and Edward Anthony. His wife, Venitia (Vee), has an equally interesting Scots history, being able to trace her family decent to Robert the Bruce. Her maiden name was Steward, the former name of Clan Stewart. Memorials to George Hubbard Makgill.

Baronet is a British hereditary rank below a Baron and above a Knight. Viscount is the hereditary rank below a Count or Earl and above a Baron. In Britain, a peer is a nobleman holding the rank of Marquis, Earl or Count, Viscount or Baron, and is a member of the House of Lords.

The Makgill family is an old one, with roots going back to the earliest days of Scots history. It was in the earlier part of the 16th century that a leaning towards the law saw Makgills as Provosts of Edinburgh.

The title Baronet of Nova Scotia was created in 1627. The family's involvement in the patterns of history saw Sir James Makgill of Cranston Makgill, a Lord of Session in Edinburgh, created the first Viscount of Oxfuird in 1651 by King Charles II.

In Scotland, the Lordship of Makgill of Cousland 19 April 1651 belongs to and is held by Viscount Oxfuird.

The Right Honourable Sir (John) Donald (Alexander Arthur) Makgill, 12th Viscount of Oxfuird (peerage of Scotland 1651), 12th Lord Macgill of Cousland (Scotland 1651) and 12th Baronet (of Scotland and Nova Scotia 1627), was born 1899, the eldest son of Sir George Makgill, Bt (de jure 11th Viscount). He was for some years a resident in New Zealand.

For over 230 years the title had remained dormant and it was not until 1977 that the Committee for Privileges confirmed the descendancy on the 12th Viscount. He died in 1986.

Confirmed by the Committee of Privileges of the House of Lords in 1986, Lord Oxfuird was an active participant in the House of Lords until his death on 3 January 2003 He was a deputy speaker and deputy chair of committees in the upper house.

For generations in the 700-year-old House of Lords, hereditary peers were simply replaced by their heirs. But that was before Prime Minister Tony Blair began a chaotic and unfinished process of reforming the tradition-bound upper chamber. In a concession to the opposition, the government agreed that if it had not moved on to the second stage of Lords reform a year after the subsequent general election, any of the remaining 92 who died would be replaced in a byelection.

Lord Oxfuird was one of 92 peers with inherited titles (hereditary peers) who were elected in 1999 to continue as members of the Lords, after the passing of the House of Lords Act, when most of the hereditary peers lost their seats. More than 600 dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts and barons were thrown out in what was intended to be an interum step.

Previous deaths among the 92 were replaced by the candidate of the same party with the next highest number of votes in the 1999 election. However in this case, under the House of Lords Act there was an election from candidates who are currently non-parliamentary peers and who were voted on by all serving members of the Lords. (The electors are 423 of 700 Lords, most of them commoners. The "new" House of Lords is dominated by several hundered appointed members, known as Life Peers. Other members include senior appeal judges, known as Law Lords, and 26 Church of England bishops.) His seat was won by Viscount Ullswater.

Arms of Viscount Oxfuird

Noel Cox
originally published in (Winter 2000) 75 New Zealand Armorist 4-5

Lord Oxfuird's heir, now the 13th viscount, lives in the United Kingdom, as did his lordship in later life. The current viscount, a nephew of Sir Donald, was educated at St Peter's School, Cambridge, and Wanganui Collegiate School.

The first viscount was a Lord of Session in 1629, one of the judges of the Scottish Court of Session, or High Court. He was a member of the Scottish Parliament from 1630, and of the Committee of the Estates in 1651. He was again a Lord of Sessions from 1661.

The title of Viscount Oxfuird was in abeyance since the death of the second viscount in 1705. Although the family was not extinct, no one individual could claim the exclusive right to it until 1977. Donald Makgill succeeded his father in the right to the title in 1926, though it was not until over fifty years later that he was able to persuade the Committee of Privileges of the House of Lords to admit his claim to the viscountcy. It was thereupon called out of abeyance, and Viscount Oxfuird took his seat in the House of Lords as twelfth Viscount Oxfuird

The armorial bearings of Viscount Oxfuird are Gules three martlets Argent.

The supporters are dexter, a horse at liberty Argent gorged with a viscount's coronet and thereto affixed a chain, maned and hooved Or. The sinister supporter is a bull Sable, hooved unguled, collared and chained Or. A horse at liberty is rampant, and chained, but the chain is unloosed. A bull with hooves ungules has hooves of a tincture of a different colour than the body, in this case Or on a Sable body.

The crest is a phoenix in flames Proper. In view of the revival of the title in 1977 this is a singularly appropriate crest.

The motto is Sine Fine.



gules red
martlet or merion a mythical bird shared like a martin with feathers in place of its legs, the mark of a fourth son.
argent (arg.) the metal silver, shown as white in heraldic illustration

dexter the right-hand side of a shield viewed from the position of the person holding it
gorged encircled round the throat gorges a whirlpool
maned used of an animal when the mane is of a different colour from the body
hooved (hoofed) used to describe the colour of the hooves of an animal when different from the colour of the animal itself; cloven-footed animals are said to be unguled
Or Gold
sinister the left side of the shield
sable (sa.) black
unguled used of animals' hooves when they are coloured differently from the body
rampant used of an animal standing on its hind legs

Another definition of the Martlet:

Martlet, (fr. Merlette, possibly the diminutive of the merula, merle, or blackbird): a bird resembling a swallow, with thighs but no visible legs. They form a very common bearing, being found in early Rolls, and are as common in French arms in English. They may be of any tincture, even of ermine(see example under Crescent), and are very frequently represented in orle(q.v.). It is used also as the difference of the fourth son.

McGill University Arms

A short history of Kemback Parish.


The name Kemback comes from the Gaelic meaning 'Field of battle' or 'Field of the Warrior', but there is no local legend to support this.
The parish is under 3 miles long measured east to west and 2.5 miles wide from north to south. The River Eden separates us from the parishes of Dairsie and Leuchars on our north, while our other neighbours are Cupar to the west, Ceres to the south and St. Andrews to the east.
Scots pine and later larch seemed to thrive well on Kemback Hill and was much in demand for building and for estate fencing. Ash, oak and gean grew on the west slopes of Dura Den, particularly the amphitheatre, while thickets of hazel covered the sheer faces.
Because of these woods and its sheltered situation, the climate is less harsh than the surrounding country. Those who disagree doubtless enjoy the healthy conditions, to say nothing of the panoramic views, of the exposed areas - and certainly in the past some of the inhabitants of Blebo Craigs have a attained a ripe old age.
Not so, however, two hundred years ago. A distressing illness, referred to as 'ague' recurred each spring. It was characterised by fits of shivering and appears to have been a malarial-type fever. However, improvements in the 18th. century in cultivation and especially drainage eradicated the illness within a short space of years. By 1840 it was just a memory.

The Church

It is appropriate that such a history should begin with what is central to the parish.

The First Church

The first church was a rectory founded by Bishop de Bernhem in 1244 and was situated somewhere in what is now the grounds of Kemback House.
The next date, 1446, relates to an act of charity to that church by Robert de Femy and his wife, Mariota Olifert, Lady of Kemback, who granted to Gilbert de Galbraith, rector of the church and to his successors, for all time, 4 acres of the lands of Kemback, together with grass for three cows and one horse, provided the rector said two Masses weekly for the family and their benefactors. Here then is - the First Glebe.
Then in 1458 Bishop Kennedy gifted Kemback to the College of St. Salvator, which he had recently founded in St. Andrews, as part of its endowment. Thus the teinds and patronage - the right to present a vicar or minister - were transferred to St. Salvator's, and were later vested in the 'United College' when St. Leonard's and St. Salvator's were united in 1747. This continued, presumably, until 1874 when the Patronage Act abolished the system.
I have recently seen a document dated 1583 in which Patrick Shevez, Laird of Kemback, gives a site on which to build a church with enough ground for a graveyard, a manse and 6 acres of glebeland. This was bigger than the first glebe, but it was recognised that the soil was of inferior quality. This was in exchange for the existing church and glebe at Kemback House. The Shevez were, of course, staunch Roman Catholics and it was felt locally that this gesture was partly to take the worshipping Reformers out of sight and sound of the house.

The Second Church

The second church is the ruin in the churchyard to which the document refers.
There are two dates above the lintel - 1583, which we now know was the year the church was founded or completed - and 1760 when the walls were heightened and the galleries added at either end. It is an early example of the 'T-shaped' post-Reformation churches, the 'Makgill Aisle', as we refer to it now, forming the leg.
In 1954 part of the east gable was destroyed when the ivy which then covered the building, caught fire. In 1959 Fife County Council wished to raze the ruin completely, but public indignation was aroused and the result was that a fund was raised with which it was preserved from further decay. The residue of the fund is administered by the Kirk Session as a separate account.
It is interesting to note that, in the old part of the graveyard, all the upright stones face east, in anticipation of Christ's Second Coming. There is no evidence of this practice being continued in the new part.

The Third Church

This is the present church and it was built in 1814. Some believe that the bell and belfry came from the ruin. If this is so, then the bell we hear on Sundays may have rung to invite worshippers in Kemback for over four hundred years.
The pulpit was originally in the centre, where the Celtic cross now is, with the organ and choir immediately in front. The interior was renovated in the late 1920s by Dr. Low, Blebo, and the wood used was Borneo cedar.
A list of ministers since the Reformation is in the vestibule.
The urn-shaped vessel in the alcove is in fact part of an old heating system.
The memorial tablets on the walls lead to the next chapter - the estates and the families who occupied them.

The Five Estates


We first hear of Kemback in the possession of Myles or Malise Graham, one of the murderers of James I at Perth in 1437. For this crime he was executed, his estate reverting to the superior, the Bishopric of St. Andrews. In 1446 it belonged to Robertus de Ferny and his wife who were, as we have heard, benefactors of the church.
In 1496 it was conferred on John Shevez together with the office of Marshall of the Bishop's Household by his uncle William Shevez who was then Archbishop of St. Andrews. He had studied astrology, theology and medicine on the Continent and was a brilliant academic. It was said that there was scarce his equal in Britain or France.
In 1665 a John Shevez, Laird of Kemback, was found dead at Cupar. He had been a determined opponent of Presbyterianism in Kemback and the Covenanters doubtless considered his demise as divine intervention. It transpired, however, that the day before he had been drinking strong waters with, among others, Morrison of Dairsie and foul play, though never established, was not ruled out.
In 1667 John Makgill, younger son of Makgill of Rankeillor, bought Kemback from Elizabeth Shevez, sister of the late John Shevez. He was a former minister of Cupar and had resigned his charge because of opposition to Episcopacy. He had studied medicine on the Continent and, by purchasing Kemback, he ironically became Marshall of an Episcopal Bishop's Household.
The Makgills are representatives of the Viscounts 'Oxfurd'. The present Lord Oxturd, George Hubbard Makgill, succeeded his uncle, the former Sir Donald Makgill, who lived in Ayrshire but who retained a keen interest in Kemback, on his death in 1986.
The late Mr. W. Harold Thomson purchased Kemback from the Makgills in the 1920s and it is still retained by the family.


Sometimes called Rumgay or, in old writings, Rathmatgallum. In 1528 it formed part of the extensive barony of Strathmiglo so long possessed by the Scots of Balwaerie, another old and powerful Fife family. They only had the superiority however.
Sir Michael Scot was a man of property and power in Fife during the reign of William the Lion (1165). He married Margaret, daughter of Sir Duncan Syres or Ceres of that ilk and was succeeded by his son Duncan Scot. The eldest son of Duncan was Sir Michael Scot who married Margaret Balwaerie. Their son was the celebrated Sir Michael Scot 'The Wizard', a contemporary of Dante and Boccaccie. The late Sir Peter Scott, the naturalist, son of 'Scott of the Antarctic' was a direct descendant.
The Douglas family were early owners, from whom it passed to the Wemys of Wemys. In 1658 it was purchased by Rev. James McGill, minister of Largo. From his family it passed to Moncrieffes, to Makgills of Kemback and then in 1800 to a Mr. Thoms, a Dundee merchant. It came in time to the Robertson family who gifted the communion table in the church.
Latterly Rumgally belonged to the Rogers, was then the home of Professor Gunstone, Vice-Principal Emeritus of St. Andrews University, and Rumgally House is now owned by Charles Fotheringham.

MAKGILL: The Viscount of Oxfuird, Hill House, St. Mary Bourne. Andover, Hants SP11 6BG

Conservative. Active Hereditary Peer. Keen interest in Trade and Industry. Sits on several House of Lords Select Committees. Non-executive Director of the Korea Liberalisation Fund. Masonic Interests: Senior Rose Croix Mason.

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