where MacGregor sits is the head of the table

The proverb is sometimes attributed to Robert MacGregor of Campbell (‘Rob Roy’: 1671–1734), highland freebooter. Other names are used as well as MacGregor. The idea is explained in the two following quots.: 1580 LYLY Euphues & his England II. 39 When..Agesilaus sonne was set at the lower end of the table, and one cast it in his teeth as a shame, he answered: this is the vpper end where I sit; 1732 T. FULLER Gnomologia no. 4362 That is the upper End, where the chief Person sits.

1837 EMERSON American Scholar 19 Wherever Macdonald [the head of the Mac-donald clan] sits, there is the head of the table. Linnaeus makes botany the most alluring of studies and wins it from the farmer and the herb-woman.

1903 K. D. WIGGIN Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm viii. If wherever the MacGregor sat was the head of the table, so..wherever Rebecca stood was the centre of the stage.

1918 A. G. GARDINER Leaves in Wind 197 There are..people who carry the centre of the stage with them... ‘Where O’Flaherty sits is the head of the table.’

1940 J. W. BELLAH Bones of Napoleon 69 Like Macdonald—where Lord Innes sat was the head of the table.

1980 Times 12 May 15 (letter from His Honour Judge MacGregor) Sir, Where MacGregor sits is the head of the table.


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