Biographical Insights about
Gruoch 'Lady Macbeth' Of SCOTLAND
(She is a 3rd Cousin of George WASHINGTON)

Copyright 2007 by Terry J. Booth. Any reproduction or reuse is prohibited,
in whole or in part, without the express written permission of the author.


Gruoch of SCOTLAND (ca 1015 - NA), best known to history as 'Lady Macbeth' because of William Shakespeare's play about her husband, Macbeth of Moray (Scottish name Mac Bethad mac Findláich), is a person about whom little is known for certain. It is therefore probable she would be little remembered except for Shakespeare. Unfortunately, she may well be innocent of many of the deeds the Bard attributed to her.

There are few historical records about Guoch beyond her ancestry, her husbands and the murderous battles and plots during her life as various family members and relatives fought for the right to rule Scotland. Born about 1010, daughter of Boedhe of Scotland (Scottish name Boite mac Cináeda), she was grand-dau of Kenneth III of Scotland (Scottish name Cináed mac Duib), King of Scotland from 997 to 1005. Kenneth III in turn claimed a hereditary right to rule via his father, Duff of Scotland, and grandfather, Malcolm I of Scotland.

Gruoch was married twice. Her first husband was Gillecomgain Of Moray (Scottish name Gille Coemgáin mac Maíl Brigti), the Mormaer of Moray until his death. About 1020, Gillecomgain participated (along with his brother) in the murder of his Uncle, Findlaech of Moray - Macbeth's father. Gillecomgain was himself murdered about a dozen years later - "burned together with fifty people" according to the Annals of Ulster history. She had her only known child by Gillecomgain - Lulach of Moray (Scottish name Lulach mac Gille Coemgáin) - shortly before Gillecomgain's death. Lulach briefly became King of Scotland following the death of Macbeth, but was in turn murdered within a year.

Following Gillecomgain's death (a death probably instigated either by Malcolm II or possibly even Macbeth) she married Macbeth of Moray, son of Findlaech of Moray (the same man Gruoch's first husband had helped murder). But there is no evidence to support Shakespeare's tale that she assisted in the murder of Duncan I MacCrinan of Scotland (Scottish name Donnchad mac Crínáin), King of Scotland, since history instead states that Duncan - a Kielley family grandfather many times removed - was killed in a battle with Macbeth near Elgin. It also seems clear - consistent with Shakespeare - that both Lady Macbeth and her father had high ambitions for her family. Also highly significant, the laws of Scottish descent at the time were so unclear that both Duncan I and Macbeth could make legitimate claims to the throne - a circumstance encouraging internecin warfare to gain the unquestioned right to the throne.

The ironic last chapter to this story of family ambition was written by Malcom III 'Canmore' of Scotland (Scottish name Máel Coluim mac Donnchada), son of Duncan I, the man Macbeth had killed to reach the throne. On 15 Aug 1057, history records that Malcolm III defeated and killed Macbeth in battle. Macbeth's successor - his stepson Lulach - was killed in a battle with Malcom III near Strathbogie less than a year later, on 17 Mar 1058. Thus ended Lady Macbeth's ambitions and was the throne returned to Duncan I's descendants.

George Washington is related to all three of the main characters in Shakespeare's famous play. The most colorful and memorable of them - Lady MacBeth - is a third cousin. Macbeth himself is a first cousin, while Duncan I MacCrinan of Scotland, King of Scotland [1034 - 1040] - the man whom Shakespeare claimed that Lady Macbeth murdered (but more probably was killed in a legitimate Battle with Macbeth) - is George's great-grandfather (many times removed) ancestor. George Washington's direct descent from Duncan I MacCrinan of Scotland and his father Crinan 'the Thane' of Scotland can be seen HERE. Note that the descent also includes Duncan I's son, Malcolm III 'Canmore' of Scotland - the person who later avenged his father's death by killing both Macbeth and his successor - Lady Macbeth's son Lulach - in separate battles. But here again Shakespeare may have modified history, since although Malcolm III is indeed the 'rightful King' in Shakespeare's play, there is little evidence that a person named MacDuff - whom Shakespeare has as a supporter of Malcolm III and the killer of Macbeth - ever lived.

Duncan I's mother was Bethoc Princess of Scotland, one of the grand-daughters of a long line of Scottish kings. Since the male line of the family died out before her generation, that fact largely explains the deadly family warfare of her generation. The spark to the conflicts being that the heriditary 'right to rule Scotland' passed through several ambitious daughters and grand-daughters without any clear rule of precedence. Click HERE to see Lady Macbeth's genealogy as a descendant of some of those early Scottish kings. The genealogy also documents her relationship to Bethoc Princess of Scotland (who - as Lady Macbeth's Aunt - thereby made Duncan I MacCrinan of Scotland the Uncle of Lady Macbeth).

For those interested in more information about Gruoch's husband, Macbeth of Moray, the Wikipedia entry for Macbeth can be found HERE. Since Macbeth and Gruoch had no known children, the closest possible relationship to Macbeth for later generations is as an Uncle or first cousin. Macbeth is Louise's first cousin not once but twice, since Bethoc and Doda - two of the sisters of Macbeth's mother, Dovada of Scotland - are ancestors of Washington as can be seen HERE.

Shakespeare's highly fictionalized version of Lady Macbeth is summarized in this WIKIPEDIA ENTRY . While his fictionalized version of this family's history probably falsely condemns Lady Macbeth as abetting the murder of Duncan I, the Bard is probably correct in depicting her and husband as sufficiently ambitious to kill any rival family member that got in the way.

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This page created on Sat Oct 27 16:17:36 2007