Ogilvie derives from the Pict word "Ocel Fa", meaning high plain. The Earl of Angus, founder of this clan, was a descendant of the ancient house of Onnist, the greatest of the Pict Kings. It was in this province that the Angles from Northumbria were defeated in 685, putting a halt to their northward expansion.
Their descendants became the hereditary Sheriffs of Angus. A Sheriff Ogilvie was killed in the battle of Harlaw in 1411 AD. His son, Sir Walter, became Lord High Treasurer, and built the tower of Airlie.
The castle of the chief, the 'bonnie hoos o' Aairlie' was destroyed in 1640 in one of the blackest crimes of the Campbells. The first Earl was with Charles at York at the outset of the Civil War when Argyll used his position as a Covenanting leader to pursue his private vendetta against his absent neighbour.
The 2nd Earl was captured at Montrose's defeat in 1645 at Philiphaugh and condemned to death. But he escaped from prison on the eve of his execution, and his descendant had an equally lucky escape in the '45, and fled to France. However, he was able to return under a pardon in 1783.