The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women: From the Earliest Times to 2004

By Elizabeth Ewan; Sue Innes et al. | Go to book overview

O

O'DONNELL, Finola (Inion Dubh, 'the dark daughter'), born western Highlands c. 1552, died c. 1610. Daughter of *Lady Agnes Campbell, and James MacDonnell of Dunyvaig and the Glens.

Finola O'Donnell is credited, along with her mother, with establishing a Scottish-Irish network central to mid-16th century revolt against the English. In August 1569 she went to Ireland to marry the Ulster chief Hugh O'Donnell (d. 1593). This act, together with the marriage of her mother to Turlough Luineach O'Neill, brought together the O'Neills and the O'Donnells, previously rivals, and united the Ulster clans against the English colonisers. Finola O'Donnell possessed a dowry of 1,200 Scottish mercenary troops whose presence, swelling the ranks of Irish rebels, the English viewed with alarm. Although ultimately these alliances were not strong enough to repel the colonial forces, the two women were at the centre of the Scottish-Irish network, working to keep Ulster independent from English rule in Dublin.

Finola O'Donnells activities were monitored throughout the late 16th century. Her own testimonies provide evidence of female agency in networks and rebellion. In 1588, she stated that she would hire the Spaniards to stir up wars against the English. The threat of Spanish invasion was rightly feared by the English in this period. In 1590, she had plans to overthrow the English sheriff of Donegal. However, by 1600, Irish rebellion was weakening, and despite mercenary support, the Irish and Scottish forces were outnumbered by the English. Nevertheless, she and her supporters waged an aggressive campaign against English governors, assassinating several English officials. After the Flight of the Earls from Ireland in 1606, the O'Donnell clan left Ireland for Spain. The eventual defeat of the Irish rebels also marked the end of a period when Ireland could call upon Scottish military aid. AEK

• PRO (National Archives), Kew, Calendar of State Papers, Ireland, vols 29 (1569), 30 (1570), 3 (1588–92). Knox, A. (2002) ' “Barbarous and Pestiferous Women”: female criminality, violence and aggression in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Scotland and Ireland', in Y. G. Brown and R. Ferguson (eds) Twisted Sisters; ODNB (2004) (Campbell, Agnes).

OGILVY, Marion, lady of Melgund, born probably Airlie before 1503, died Melgund June 1575. Mistress of Cardinal David Beaton. Daughter of Janet Lyle, and James, 1st Lord Ogilvy of Airlie.

Born of her father's fourth marriage, Marion Ogilvy was poorly provided for at his death in 1504 (except as an alternative bride in her sister's marriage contract of 1503, not implemented). Her association with David Beaton (c. 1494–1546), then abbot of Arbroath, may have begun around 1525 when she wound up her late mother's affairs at Airlie. She became the mother of Beaton's eight recorded children, rearing them at Ethie, his castle near Arbroath. She built up considerable property, held from the abbey, frequently appearing in court to defend her rights. An able manager of her affairs, she used a seal and could write. When her sons studied in France she sent them money through an Italian banker. In 1543 the Cardinal obtained a secular property, the barony of North Melgund near Brechin, settling it on her 'in liferent' and on their oldest son heritably. Melgund Castle, which he built or rebuilt for his family, displayed the armorial bearings of them both, like those of a landed married couple. She was with Beaton in the castle at St Andrews the night before his assassination on 29 May 1546. After his death, her houses were attacked and papers stolen, but were returned after successful court action.

In spring 1547 Marion Ogilvy married William Douglas (otherwise unknown) but was widowed by 18 September; Douglas may have died at the battle of Pinkie (9 September). She spent the rest of her life managing affairs at Melgund, joined in 1572 by her daughter Margaret (see Chisholm, Jane), estranged from her husband, David, 10th Earl of Crawford. The castle was a rallying point for *Queen Mary's Angus supporters after her escape from Lochleven in 1568. Several relatives were prosecuted as Catholic recusants. When Marion Ogilvy died, she left over £3,000 Scots, including £1,000 in ready money. She asked for burial in the Ogilvy aisle of Kinnell church. Less than two weeks later, her family formally made peace with the Cardinal's surviving assassin, John Leslie of Parkhill.

Marion Ogilvy exemplifies many landed women who managed their affairs single-handed. Her association with the Cardinal, differing little

-285-

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The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women: From the Earliest Times to 2004
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Advisers to the Project viii
  • Contributors ix
  • Abbreviations xv
  • Readers' Guide xxiii
  • Introduction xxv
  • The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women 1
  • A 3
  • B 21
  • C 56
  • D 90
  • E 109
  • F 115
  • G 130
  • H 153
  • I 177
  • J 181
  • K 188
  • L 200
  • M 214
  • N 280
  • O 285
  • P 289
  • Q 294
  • R 295
  • S 310
  • T 350
  • U 358
  • V 359
  • W 361
  • Y 383
  • Z 384
  • Thematic Index 386
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