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Sir Duncan Campbell
Sir Duncan of Lochow
Some time prior to 1414 Duncan succeeded his father Colin “The Wonderful” as head of the Campbell family. The earlier generations were gradually building the reputation, connections and fortune of the family and Duncan continued these efforts in an energetic manner.
Duncan had advanced into the Royal circle. The Scottish King James had been captured by the English,
The English King held James, who on the death of his father became the Scottish King, and he agreed to his release on the payment of 60,000 merks. This was for his education and the expense of a comfortable confinement. Until the full amount was paid, hostages from the Scottish nobility were required and Duncan was one of them. This service to the King resulted in the rewards of Duncan’s appointments as Privvy Councillor, Lieutenant of Argyll and Justice General.
Duncan married Marjory or Marcellina Stewart, a prestigious arrangement as Marjory was of Royal blood, and the most eligible lady in the land. They had a son Celestine, who was also known as Archibald, Gillespic and Roy of Kilbride. Father and son worked closely together, their names appearing on several charters. Duncan held Dunoon Castle and had his mansion at Strathechaig, near to Kilmun. The untimely death of Celestine led to an enduring legend.
The Legend of Celestine
Celestine, the son of the "Black Knight of Loch Awe", was studying at Glasgow University around 1440 when he sadly and unexpectedly died. The family were taking his body along the best route to the family burial place at Lochawe but were halted at Kilmun by a fierce snowstorm. The Chief of the Lamont family took pity on Duncan and granted him the right to bury his son at Kilmun.
“I, Great Lamont of all Cowal do give unto thee, Black Knight of Lochawe a grave of flags, wherein to bury thy son in thy distress”
This romantic legend is popular, but only appeared in the early 19th century. Celestine, in his 30s and with a wife and children was too old to be studying; the university itself was not founded until 1451. There is no reference anywhere else to Duncan being known as “The Black Knight”. Importantly there was no need for any permission for a Campbell burial at Kilmun, and certainly not from the Lamont family which had ceased to have any control over land which the Campbells had held for eighty years. Many charters and documents from this era have survived, but none referring to this event. It is unknown how the legend started, but despite all the errors it remains popular.
Duncan had been generous to several religious establishments, including White Friars in Perth, Saddel in Kintyre and Dunoon, and shortly after Celestine’s death the existing church at Kilmun.
Duncan continued to add to the Campbell fortunes, receiving honours up to the end of his life in 1453. Marjory had died before him and both were buried near their son in the church at Kilmun. The magnificent effigies were later moved from the church itself to the Mausoleum.