Rosemary McLeod: McLeod-Trump dark past

By Rosemary McLeod

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Trump's McLeods, of Lewis and Raasay, fought at Culloden on the English side.
Trump's McLeods, of Lewis and Raasay, fought at Culloden on the English side.

McLeod, MacLeod, M'Leod, McCloud, Macleod, take your pick. One way or another Donald Trump and I are linked in the great genetic daisy chain of misty isles, loud tartans, terrible food, and worse weather.

As the only human being on the planet claiming a blood tie willingly - 100th cousin 85 times removed? - with the presidential hopeful let me say that if the world was as it should be he'd have his mother's surname, and mine, and there'd be no avoiding it. If we were Black Power we'd be bros.

Somewhere way back in time - it all began in the Middle Ages - our McLeod forebears will have caved each other's skulls in with claymores or stabbed each other with dirks in one of those endless Scottish feuds, which they elevated to an art form. Or they will have exchanged friendly gutterals in their native Gaelic over a shot of whiskey - or a dirty great tankard full if my great-great grandfather is any guide. The earth around our pioneer family cottage was littered with square gin bottles for a century after his demise, and doubtless many more remain. It would have been cheaper, you see, the square gin.

My McLeod father was fonder of a tipple than just about anything else, apart from Pall Mall plains. And by coincidence one of Trump's brothers died at the age of 42 the worse for liquor, a possible reason why Trump isn't known as a drinker.

Such things should be borne in mind by the American public, who may yet make a president out of my distant kinsman. Give him an arsenal of super-deadly weapons and a feud to seethe over and the planet will likely be obliterated, as were all the pesky inhabitants of the island of Eigg, they say, hundreds of them, who the McLeods found hiding in a cave in 1577 and suffocated. Something to do with a feud with the MacDonalds, and bothering girls, were in the background. There was no television in those days.

Obliterating Islamic state will prove more of a challenge for Trump, not to mention sorting out Afghanistan, but where there's a will there's a way.

Picture the Donald standing with full tankard (he would have been a drinker then because of the foul water) in the medieval McLeod hall and vowing to build a wall to keep out the MacDonalds, or the Mexicans, or Muslims in variety. "It will be a bigger victory than Eigg!" I hear him cry, in gutterals. And the clansmen would start up the bagpipes in eager anticipation. "Aye, I will build a wall, and the MacDonalds will pay for it!" he would cry, wearing one of those Viking hats with horns poking out either side. He would allude to the McLeods' glorious history, The Battle of Bloody Bay and The Battle of the Spoiling Dyke among them. What pictures they'd conjure up of skulls and gizzards and gory destruction. We weren't of Viking descent for nothing.

Trump's McLeods, of Lewis and Raasay, fought at Culloden on the English side, a lapse of judgment - or treachery - that my McLeods, of Dunvegan and Harris, promptly burned and pillaged them for. So Trump has to know, deep in his ancestral bones, that things won't always go his way.

They did for his mum, though, when she arrived in New York, fresh from the Isle of Lewis, intending to be a servant. Within a few years she had married Trump's father, Fred, who became very rich.

Mary Anne Macleod (sic) was an attractive young woman. Though we McLeods may be descended from a chap called Leod, a name derived from the Old Norse for ugly, one theory traces Trump's branch to "Helga of the beautiful hair." Genetics are such that you can see this in a Trump family photograph of 1994. Both The Donald and his mother wear big, blonde, candyfloss dos, as he does to this day, a miracle of spun sugar.

Trump's maternal grandfather was called Malcolm, as was my great great uncle who, according to my father, was wont to wander the hills of our own Dunvegan playing the bagpipes, somewhat light in the head department due to some nebulously described accident.

My father's tales of his family, though inventive and often amusing, could not always be relied on. And this is the risk my distant kinsman runs, of running away with himself, as it were, due to the inherent hilarity of the situation he finds himself in. His love affair with the American gun lobby may look a little less appealing this week, what with a five-year-old girl killing herself accidentally with her father's gun, but we Scots have strong stomachs.

The bones of our enemies littered our island shores for centuries and I dare say American bones will lie in similar fashion on various continents when Trump Macleod has tidied up the world to his satisfaction. Never a dull moment will be his epitaph.

- Rosemary McLeod is a journalist and author.

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