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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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MacRae, John

by Richard Walser, 1991

fl. 1774–80

John MacRae, Loyalist poet and song-writer, born in Kintain, Scotland, was a recognized Gaelic poet and singePhoto is courtsey from North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. The marker is located in Moore County.r before sailing for North Carolina in 1774 and settling on McLendons Creek (now in Moore County). In Gaelic, his name was Iain mac Mhurchaidh 'ic Fhearchair. MacRae was among the Highland Scots defeated in February 1776 by the Patriots at Moore's Creek Bridge, where his son Murdock was fatally wounded. During the American Revolution his Loyalist sentiments kept him in trouble, his taxes were increased, and finally, if legend can be trusted, he was captured and put to death in retaliation for the fierce devotion to George III expressed in his songs.

His patriotic and autobiographical poems, his lyrics, and his much admired lullaby, "Duanag Altrium," were all written in Gaelic. Most of them were composed during his North Carolina sojourn and, it is said, are still sung and recited in Nova Scotia and Scotland. MacRae's songs and poems are included in Gaelic Bards from 1715 to 1765 (1892) and Mactalla nan Tur (1901), collections compiled by A. Maclean Sinclair.


Charles W. Dunn, "A North Carolina Gaelic Bard," North Carolina Historical Review 36 (October 1959).

James MacKenzie, "The Odyssey of John MacRae," State magazine (Raleigh), 1 Dec. 1971.

Additional Resources:

"John Macrae." N.C. Highway Historical Marker K-43, N.C. Office of Archives & History. (accessed March 6, 2013).

Image Credits:

"John Macrae." N.C. Highway Historical Marker K-43, N.C. Office of Archives & History. (accessed March 6, 2013).

Origin - location: