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Last updated on 11 September 2009.

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"The later Scottish clan system was itself a modified reflection of Pictish Society"
From "In Search of the Picts" by Elizabeth Sutherland.


A white saltire cross of Saint Andrew on a sky-blue background appeared in a dream to the great Pict King, Onnust, in 832 AD.  It became the new symbol of the Pict Kingdom, and remains the popular national symbol of Scotland today.

The first Symbol of the Picts was the Highland bull, no doubt due to its fearlessness and its family values
(This cow once tossed me four feet into the air.)

The Clan system had been around for thousands of years  before the advent of the Dalriadic Scots, although in a different mode.  Tacitus, scribe and son-in-law to Agricola, wrote in AD79 "the Caledonians wore kilts of primitive tartans".

It must be remembered that Scottish history has been distorted to eliminate the actual extent of Pict influence.   In truth, 90% of the population of Albann at the time of the union of the two Kingdoms, was Pict.  They did not disappear.  They merely began calling themselves Scottish since the term "Pictii" was a Roman invention, and took Gaelic names.  This chapter is an effort to reflect the actual circumstances of the Pict origins of certain clans.  Be prepared for many surprises!

Lychnis Alba  (Evening Lychnis)

A great people did not die, they metamorphosed into a Clann system
that dominated Scottish society for 800 years.

In the words of Forbes MacGregor: "There were clans among the Picts before 537AD, the date of the death of King Arthur, but they were of a different nature than the Highland clans of Scotland, though no doubt the idea was the same and the word Clann, meaning children, described them".

"Se Clann gobha-na-saighead a thog a cheud smuid a thug goil air uisge na Urcha", The clan of the arrow smiths were the first to raise smoke and boil water from the Orchy.  This was often asserted by the Fletchers, a sept of the Clan Gregor".

Below are listed some of the better known Clans of Pict descent in no particular order.

An Explanation

The origins of most Scottish clans are shrouded in mystery.  Their ancestors are usually known only as far back as the 1200s. as there were no written accounts, only verbal traditions that were passed down from mothers to their children.  The ancestral claims of several clans may be through a distant female line, as well as male.  i.e. The Campbells claim to be the descendants of the Ossianic hero, Dairmad, with whom the wife of Fingal fell in love, and was the progenitor of the Clann Dhuibhne.

Regarding the origins of the clan Dhuibhne, the traditional founder of Dalriada, Cairbre Riada's heir, Eochach Dubhlein, married a Pictish Princess, a daughter of the Albann Pict King, Obdaire.  She bore him three sons, known in legend as the `three Collas'.  The oldest, Colla Uais, aspired to the High Kingship of Tara but was defeated by a cousin.  He and his brothers fled to Albann (possibly to Colonsay), the homeland of his wife and in-laws.  In due time, they returned to Ireland where they won swordland and founded a Kingdom called Airghailla (or Oriel).  So, the Dalriadic Scots' founding family (and also the Campbells') were half Pict.

However, this line was through Eva O'Duibhne, who married  one Gillespic Cam-beul (Crooked mouth).  The Campbells became known as 'the race of Dairmad' through a female connection, although they took their surname from Gillespic Cam-beul, a male connection of that union of blood lines.

In the case of the  Clan Gregor, it is universally recognized the mother of Alpin Mac Eoacha, was a Pict Princess, and that was the connection he needed to claim he was of royal descent.  Whether present day MacGregors are descendants of the half Scot/half Pict, Alpin, or of the Pict, Grig, we are definitely of Pict descent one way or the other, every bit as much as the Campbells are 'the race of Dairmid'.  Recent y-dna tests have proven there is a significant nine marker discrepancy between the Campbell and MacGregor genealogical lines, indicating they are of different ethnic backgrounds. Many Campbells have been startled to find they are actually MacGregors.

In addition, several outstanding Pict kings had foreign fathers, thus introducing a significant amount of non-Pict y-dna into Albann Royal lines, i.e. to name a few:

  • Bran was the son of Carvorst, the founder of the Welsh kingdom of Strathclyde.

  • Drust II was the son of Cynnvar, a Welsh king of Gododdin.

  • Tallorh III was the son of Muireadhach, an Irish Cruithni king of Ulidia.

  • Brud Mauur I  was the son of Maelgwn, a Welsh king of Gwynedd.

  • Galanan VI was the son of Aedan Mac Gabhran, a Scottish sub-king of New Dalriada.

  • Nehhtonn II was the son of Canonn, a Welsh noble as he was also known as king Neifion of Strathclyde.

  • Galanan VII, Brud III & Tallorggann I were sons of king Gwyddno, a Welsh king of Strathclyde.

  • Tallorggann V was a son of Ecgberht, a Saxon king of Bernicia.

  • Galanan VIII and Drust VI (ruled 663-672) were sons of Domnall Brecc, Scottish sub-king of New Dalriada.

  •  Brud Mauur IV was the son of the Welsh king Beli, of Strathclyde.

  •  Brud VI, Nehhtonn III and Drust VII were sons of Princess Der-Lei, with the father un-named.

  •  Cinnidd II and Alpin II were sons of the Scot, Uurad, of Lorne in New Dalriada.

In his authoritive "Clan Gregor', published in 1977, Forbes MacGregor stated; 'The Dalriadic Scots and the Picts intermarried to the extent the blood lines of many families became blurred'.  With this common sense statement taken into consideration, many clans that claim Pict descent, and also, many clans that claim Dalriadic Scot descent; are in fact, a blending of both founding races.  For any Scottish clan to claim they are of a pure Dalriadic (or Pict) descent is pure arrogance.

I have attempted here to abide by the rule that, where historical record (or tradition) has indicated a definite Pict or Celtic origin, only those clans are listed as being  of a Pict descent, as the Welsh-speaking Britons of the Celtic Kingdoms of Strathclyde, Gododdin and Rheded came to be known as the 'Southern Picts'.  The historical facts that the Welsh language assimilated the Orcadian-Pict language by 300AD, and they often fought together to repel foreigners, indicates for the most part, these two societies were content to live in mutual respect and tranquility.

Several DNA projects now ongoing, in conjunction with comparisons with known physical characteristics of Picts, may shed more light on this subject.  If a reader has knowledge of historical fact that indicates otherwise, please contact the author at

    Hal MacGregor

Clann GUNN

The far north of Scotland is extremely rich in prehistoric remains.  There stands the mysterious brochs of the proto-Picts and the superb stone sculpture of the Picts themselves.  Their intricately carved monuments survive along both shores of the Moray Firth.Broch of Birsay Symbol Stone

When the Picts were overrun by the Gaelic Scots of Dalriada in the south, and by Vikings in the north, the survivors would naturally have taken refuge in inaccessible hinterlands behind the areas in which substantial evidence of their presence remained.  It is precisely here, in the heights of the Caithness-Sutherland border, that Clann Gunn was to be found.

Some historians, have described Clann Gunn as Norwegian, others as Gaelic, but the fact remains, this was an ancient Clan of Picts who had occupied their land unbroken for over  8,000 years.  Clan Gunn is of the Royal House of the Pictish province of Cath.  (Note: Cat in P-Celtic [Welsh] is Cath. Cat in Irish and Scottish Gaelic is Cat;  Cat in Breton is Kazh.)

The late Lord Lyon King of Arms, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, stated the name was derived from the Norse Gunnr, meaning war.  In the same way, Norse and Gaelic derivations are found for many local place-names that have survived from a lost prehistoric language.  It is well known that the Picts borrowed extensively from other languages, both in place names and in personal names.  First Greek, then Latin, and in turn, P-Celtic, Gaelic, Germanic Saxon, French, and finally English.

When Kenneth MacAlpine reigned as King of the southern Picts and the Dalriadic Scots, the northern Picts were beyond his reach.  They held out in their splendid isolation from foreign control until Girig brought them into his enlarged Kingdom about 880 AD.  Trustworthy Pict aristocrats were appointed as Mormaers in seven Pict provinces, and their families became hereditary overlords throughout the Picto-Scot Dynasty.  Then as their power grew, Norman Kings started executing them into oblivion.

As the spreading Gaels and Normans fought each other for territories, the Gunns became more indented by their neighbours to the west, north and south.  Their very survival became tenuous, particularly during the great conflict between the Norman Sinclair Earls of Caithness and the Norman Gordon Earls of Sutherland. 

In the mid-15th century, the Clan Gunn Chief became the hereditary Crowner of Caithness.  His insignia of office gave him the Gaelic title of Am Braisdeach Mór, (Wearer of the Big Brooch).  It was as if the interlopers sought legitimacy by arranging for the approval of those who came before.

Despite their hardship, one of the greatest Scottish authors arose from their midst.  Neil Gunn (1891 - 1973) of Dunbeath, wrote 20 novels about  the people of his clan.  They have been described as the finest work yet produced by a Scottish novelist.  The Gunns suffered severely in the Clearances of the early 19th century.  Today, they are scattered along the many small fishing communities of northern Scotland, indistinguishable from their neighbours.


In its genitive form MacAoidh, Son of Aodh, as it is pronounced in Strathnaver, is similar to the modern Irish spelling of Magee.  The MacKay country was the most remote from the seat of government of any part of the Scottish mainland.  

Originally, the MacKays belonged to the old ruling house of Moray.  Malcolm MacEth, Earl of Ross, was displaced from Moray by King Malcom IV in 1160.  His grandson, Kenneth, joined the rebellion against William the Lion, and was killed in 1215.  Kenneth's son, Iye, was the progenitor of the MacKays.  He became chamberlain to Walter de Baltrode, Bishop of Caithness, and his son Iye Mor, married the bishop's daughter, this acquiring the lands of Durness, in the far north-west corner of Scotland.

Iye Mor was succeeded by his son, Donald, (b:1265) who married a daughter of Iye MacNeil of Girgha.  Their son, another Iye, became Chief in 1330.  It was during his chieftship that a bitter feud between clan Sutherland and clan MacKay broke out.  King David II granted the Earldom of Sutherland 'in regality' to William, Chief of Clan Sutherland in 1345, giving him almost royal power in that part of Scotland.

He immediately claimed feudal superiority over the MacKays, provoking fierce resistance on their part.  Eventually, the matter was put to arbitration, with a tong possibility of a verdict in favour of the MacKays independence.  The Sutherlands struck first, and in 1372, and murdered Iye MacKay and his heir, Donald, in Dingwall Castle.

Donald's son, Angus, became the 5th Chief of clan MacKay.  He married a daughter of Torquil MacLeod of Lewis, and died in 1403, when his son, Angus Dubh inherited the chieftship.  Angus Dubh's uncle, Huisdean Dubh, was his tutor, and he quarreled with Angus's widowed mother.  She summoned her MacLeod kinsmen, who invaded the MacKay country in 1408.

After laying waste to the area, they withdrew but were overtaken by the pursuing MacKays in Strathoykel, far to the south, at a place near Oykel Bridge, where a fierce battle took place.  This fight was known as Latha Tuiteam Tarbhach (the Day of  Great Productivity).  It was a victory for the MacKays, and it was said that only one MacLeod escaped alive.  The remainder of Angus Dubh's chieftship saw a further strengthening of MacKay power.  In 1425, Angus invaded Moray and the next year, he invaded Caithness to settle scores with his longtime enemies.

In 1427, it was estimated the Chief could muster a force of 4,000 fighting men with whom to defend his province.  It was called Strathnaver, named after its largest river.  After the ascendancy of Kenneth MacAlpine, and the steady encroachment of Gaelic Scots throughout the former Pict provinces, the MacKay leadership decided to integrate into the top echelons of Scottish Gaelic Society.

Until the 17th century, every marriage of a Chief of MacKay was with a member of the Scottish Gaelic aristocracy.  In 1588, by violence, fraud, and the abuse of Royal authority, the first MacKay Chief was reduced to the status of a feudal vassal to a Gordon Earl.  Although the Gordons tried to use the MacKay fighting force to their own end, the MacKay Chief managed to take a force of 3,000 MacKays to fight on the Protestant side in Holland in the thirty years war.  Many MacKays served in the Swedish army and retired there, and took Swedish names.  Others retired in Holland and did the same, even producing a Dutch Prime Minister.

Hugh MacKay, of the Cadet house of Scourie, commanded the forces that fought against Bonnie Dundee at Killiecrankie in 1689.  As a result, MacKay country remained unmolested.  This world was destroyed in the Clearances of the 19th century.  The direct line of the MacKay Chiefs died out, and  today, Baron MacKay van Ophemert in the Netherlands, is the present Chief of MacKay.


The name Morgan means sea-borne in old P-Celtic.  The presence of a clan Morgan in Scotland was first noted in the Book of Deer, which was written at an undetermined although very early date.  They lived in Aberdeenshire and Sutherland, where the MacKays were known as Clan Morgan for awhile, and so the Morgans were classed as a Sept of Clan MacKay.

The Book of Deer emphasizes the antiquity of the Morgan family, describing how their ancestors made sacrifices to their pagan gods as well as to Christian saints.  Dual religious practices were common in the very early stages of the Picts' conversion to Christianity, which began in Albann around the end of the 4th century AD.


Their ancient refuge was the Brodie castle near Forres in Moray.  

The Chiefs of Brodie were survivors of the old Pict aristocratic order that spawned six Brud Kings.  A finely carved Pict symbol stone still stands close to the castle as a momento of the dynasty which Saint Columba came to visit.

From the time of Bruce until the 16th century, the succession of the thanes of Brodie continued in the male line.  This family was successful in staying out of the limelight until 1640, when Alexander Brodie of Brodie, a fanatical Presbyterian, became embroiled in the Great revolution.  In 1650, he was sent by the General Assembly to persuade Charles II to sign the National Covenant and to invite him to Scotland as King.

In 1727, another  Alexander Brodie became Lord Lyon King of Arms, but the family has continued its tradition of avoiding any part in public affairs.  It has watched other families rise and fall  while, since time immemorial, it has continued to occupy the same home.

In 1979, Ninian Brodie of Brodie conveyed Brodie Castle to the National Trust of Scotland, in whose care it is now open to the public.



Derived from the Pict, Nehhtonn, (Gaelic = Neachdainn), Anglicized to Nechtan, then Naughton, meaning "pure one".  Nehhtonn was the King of Moray, therefore the King of the Picts, who founded Abernethy, and built hundreds of Stone churches throughout Albann.  Many members of the Nehhtonn family moved to northern Ireland in the AD400s, and were included in the Irish Picts who the Gaels called "Cruithne".  Some eventually changed their surname to Norton.

The clan opposed Bruce, but later pledged loyalty to his descendants, the Stewarts.  

Clan "Nechtan" was established in Strathtay in the 12th century, forcibly transferred there from Moray by Malcolm IV, who imported Norman and Saxon aristocrats to replace old Pict families in the north, and  expelled them to areas of the south, in an effort to eliminate the power of regional Chiefs.

Their possessions extended over the upper part of Loch Awe, Glenarn, Glenshira and Loch Fyne. Gilchrist MacNaughton was granted the castle and island of Fraoch Eilean in Loch Awe by Alexander III in 1267.

In addition, Gilchrist also held Dunderave on Loch Fyne and the castle of Dubh Loch in Glenshira.  As the MacNaughtons were allied to the MacDougalls of Lorne, their chief, Donald MacNaughton, opposed Robert the Bruce (as did the Comyns in the north and the MacGregors of Glen Orchy). On Robert becoming King, the MacNaughtons lost many of their lands in Argyll to the Campbells.  However Donald's son, Duncan, loyally supported King David II, who rewarded his son Alexander with lands in the Isle of Lewis.  Sir Alexander MacNaughton, chief of the clan during the reign of James IV fell with his King at Flodden in 1513.

Alexander MacNaughton, who raised a band of archers to fight for Charles I in the Civil War, became Charles II's courtiers, and also supported King James VII.  After James was forced into exile, he praised MacNaughton for  his loyalty.  Both Charles II, and James VII, had intended to confer substantial honours on the MacNaughton chiefs, the former with a charter of the hereditary sheriffship of Argyll, and the latter with a commission as steward and hereditary bailie of all the lands which he and his ancestors had ever possessed; but in the former case the patent, by reason of some court intrigue, never passed the seals, and in the second case, though the deed was signed by the king, and counter-signed by the Earl of Perth, its purpose was defeated by the outbreak of the Revolution of 1688.

The MacNaughtons lost their estates in 1691.  The 17th and last chief of the MacNaughtons was John of Dundarave who fell out with Campbell of Ardkinglas whose daughter he was to marry.  MacNaughton thought he was to marry the younger daughter with whom he was in love.  However, after taking too much refreshment prior to the ceremony, he discovered he'd been wed to the eldest daughter.  On realizing his predicament, he promptly deserted his new wife, and eloped to Ireland with his true love, the second daughter.  Campbell of Ardkinglas gained possession of the MacNaughton estates on the grounds of "incest", and the chiefship became vacant.  (Another typical Campbell ploy to steal land).

In 1818, the Lord Lyon King of Arms accepted Edmund A. MacNaghton as chief of the clan.  His descendant, Sir Patrick MacNaghton of Dundarave County, Antrim in Northern Ireland, is the present-day chief. 

Septs of the Clan Naughton are: Kendrick, Hendry, MacHenry, Maceol, MacBrayne, MacHendry, MacKendrick, MacKenrick, Macknight, MacNair, MacNayer, MacNiven, MacNuir, MacNuyer, MacVicar, Niven, Weir, MacKendrick, Mackenrick, Macnight, Macnayers, Macbraynes, Henderson, Eanruig,  McNitt.

Modern name variations:   MacNaughton, MacNaghton, O'Neachtain, Naughton, MacNachtan. Norton.



MacGregor ancient hunting tartan

All men admit the clan Gregor to be the purest branch of the ancient race of Scotland now in existence. - true descendents, in short, of the native stock of the country, and unmixed by blood with immigrants either of their own or of any other race.   About this point there is no dispute; and the name of clan Alpine, commonly adopted by them for centuries, would almost alone suffice to prove their descent from the Albiones, the first known inhabitants of Scotland.  Condensed from "Clans of the highlands of Scotland", Thomas Smibert, 1850.

This clann's first name was Alpin.  It was changed to Clann Gregor in a defiant act of solidarity about 1070, to resist the depredations of the Campbells on ancient Clan territory, when the Campbells were insisting the land belonged to one person, when in reality it was communal Clann property. 

The family name "Alpin" was a Pict invention.  It was never a Scottish name but was an old Celtic name meaning mountainous.  It was given to a half Pict son (who was the father of a future king of the Picts, Kenneth MacAlpin), by a Pict mother.  It was not restricted to one family as there were many Pict families with the name Alpin, since in reality, it was a personal name that reflected the name of their country, Albann.   The naming of a "Clann Alpin", merely meant it was a proud entity of the Pict nation, Albann.

The name, 'Gregor', was taken from a purely Pict King, Grig MacDungal of Fortrenn, who was of no relation to the Alpin family whatsoever.  He ruled Albann alone from 882 to 893 AD.

This Clan claims descent from Fingon (English spelling), a Pict monk, and a grandson of King Girig, and other Pict monks of Glen Dochart in western Perthshire.  Fingon made a successful trip to Rome to ask Pope Benedict for permission for Pict monks in Glen Dochart to marry and procreate to offset the declining Pict  numbers, due to so many men joining religious orders, and becoming celibate.

Unlike many other southern Highland clans, the MacGregors accepted, from their very  beginning, other families into their clan as full members.  This penchant was due to their efforts to survive in a hostile world of constant turmoil, and struggle for living space, and is reflected today in the broad spectrum of YDNA of known MacGregors, and their aliases.  Their outstanding success at seizing territories, and holding them by the sword (with the tacit or outright approval of the King of the time) angered their neighbours, amongst whom was the emerging Campbells of Loch Awe. 

In the AD900s, the MacGregors swept westwards to assist King Alexander II to reconquer an Argyll that was still under the control of the Norse King, and after a successful campaign, assimilated the Dalriadic Scots there, giving rise to the fabled three MacGregor Glens of Orchy, Lochy and Strae.

After Robert the Bruce became King, he began a concerted effort to settle old scores with those Highland Chiefs who had followed Wallace, but had spurned his efforts at gaining their loyalty.  Bruce gave Campbell of Awe the rights to all lands around Loch Awe, giving them a foothold in MacGregor territory.  Again, due to treachery, violence, fraud, and the abuse of Royal authority, the Campbell dragon stole huge swaths of MacGregor territory wherever it was discovered.

Denigrated since the time of Robert the Bruce, this clan was the object of many Royal (and Campbell) Commissions of Fire and Sword, two proscriptions, and the unique target of a concerted 300 year effort by the Scottish, then, the British Government to annihilate it.  Several other clans disappeared under less horrific conditions but the MacGregors kept coming back, and, when under threat, coalesced like beads of mercury to punish those who tormented them.  Even the powerful Dukes of Argyll took extreme measures to protect their families from the 'marauding' MacGregors.

Perhaps no other clan in Scotland has aroused as much emotion as this, the clan of Rob Roy.  Belittled by Scottish historians, hunted by Campbell hounds, slaughtered by Stewarts, prejudged by the courts, and eulogized by Sir Walter Scott, the British government finally relented in 1774, when at the urging of saner minds, my family name was again allowed to be used legally in Scotland.

Forbes MacGregor wrote in 1977, in the only Clan Gregor Society authorized book on MacGregors, "The astounding thing is that the main body of MacGregors is of Pict ancestry but not the old line of Chiefs". This does not refrain many revisionists today from claiming the MacGregors are of Dalriadic Scottish descent.  Is it no wonder we have trouble "fitting in?"

In two of the most typical episodes of our violent history; In 1565 (before we were proscribed), brothers Robert and Gregor MacGregor were cruelly murdered at night by two Campbell-hired Italian assassins.  Queen Mary, being horrified by the deed, made a unique enactment;  She ordered that Patrick MacGregor and a dozen other clansmen be released from a bond of restraint, so they could hunt down the perpetrators.  How swiftly this was done may be read in the Chronicles of Fortingal of 27th July, 1565:  "James Gestalcar killed with some of his accomplices by Gregor MacGregor of Stronemelochan".

After Mary fled to England in 1568, with the tacit assent from James I, Campbell of GlenOrchy and his hired killers pursued Gregor.  Tradition tells he was the hero of the famous exploit still commemorated in "MacGregor's Leap" over a waterfall in Glen Lyon.  Under constant threat from Scotland's most powerful Lord, he survived for only four years.  On 7th April 1570, he was confined in a Campbell dungeon, and then beheaded.  With grim satisfaction, the records of 22nd August 1570, related "John MacCoul Dow slain beside Glen Falloch with 13 of Campbell of Argyll's men by Clan Gregor".

Gregor's son was no other than Alasdair MacGregor of Glenstrae, the "arrow of Glenstrae", and recognized Chief of Clan Gregor, until he too was treacherously betrayed by Argyll, and executed in Edinburgh with eleven of his closest relatives.  One of its unique attributes was the creation of a government fort built merely to contain its activities, Inversnaid, which was destroyed at every opportunity by (of course) the MacGregors; the last time by James Mohr MacGregor (and a handful of Glengyle MacGregors), eldest son of Rob Roy.

The wheels of true justice grind slowly, but Alasdair was ultimately more than avenged on both Argyll and James VI.  James's second son, Charles I, died on the scaffold in 1649.  Both Argyll's son and grandson were also publicly executed; the first in 1661, and the other in 1685.  The MacGregors must have partied long into the night.

In a language course with the Canadian government, I once asked two Iroquois MacGregor women how did their MacGregor men rate in Iroquois society.   I was not surprised when they both quickly answered - "They are the worst".  Maybe cells do have memories but then - the law of the day ensured that discretion would never be a MacGregor virtue.

The most powerful MacGregor who ever lived became the longest serving Prime Minister of Canada, William Lyon MacKenzie King, who at one time, controlled the 3rd largest air force and navy, and the 5th largest army in the world.   Eleven MacGregors were awarded the Victoria cross (more than any other Scottish Clan). Colonel John MacGregor was Canada's most decorated officer.

The most outstanding MacGregor to have left Scotland was the Rev. Dr. James Drummond MacGregor of Pictou, Nova Scotia, who was the 'Godfather' to all Gaelic-speaking protestants in northern Nova Scotia, all of Prince Edward Island and southwestern New Brunswick for most of his life.  For more information on famous and outstanding MacGregors, click here.

After King Grig's reign, the title of Monarch was changed from the Latin 'Rex Pictorum' to the Pict 'Ri Albainn'.  It remained the official title until after MacBethad's death in 1057, when Lulach mac Gille Coemgáin (the unlucky) became the first official king of "Scotland" when he attained the throne and changed the title to "Rex Scotorum".  He only ruled for a few months when he was assassinated by his successor, Malcom Canmore.  Lulach was the last king in the line of Alpin.



The MacIvers and the MacIvors were the MacGregors of Glenn Lyon, and were full fledged members of the Clan Council.  In the 13th century, Scottish Kings were busy trying to regain the western islands from the Norse.  The far west still owed allegiance to the Norse King, so every Spring, MacGregors were urged to join in those crusades.  In 1221, a contingent of MacIvors went into Argyll to fight for King Alexander II, and they did so well that Alexander rewarded them with lands in Lergachionzie and Asknish.  Little is known of these MacIvors after they settled in their new territory.

The remaining MacIvors in Glenn Lyon were massacred by the Stuarts in 1685, and their lands were seized.  Their seat on the Clan Gregor Council was assumed by the MacGregors of Roro.  Their lands were eventually sold to the Campbell Duke of Argyll, who was intent on owning all of western Scotland.  Their lands were restored by Argyll, although, as were so many other MacGregors, they were forced to assume the Campbell name, and pay him rent.

Clann MACAULAY (of Ardencaple)

The MacAulays were associated with the MacGregors, and their tartan resembles that of the MacGregors.  They were of Celtic origin, and were at first known as Ardencaples, from their chief seat at Ardencaple in Dumbartonshire.  Ultimately, they acquired a chief named Alwin (in Welsh), Amhlaidh (in Gaelic), Aulay (in English), a younger son of the Earl of Lennox  of the same name.  Amhlaidh and his son, Duncan, were mentioned in several of the Earl's charters.

The clan took his name, as 'sons of Aulay' or MacAulay.  In 1296, MacAulay was among the 2000 Scots nobles and clergy who signed the Ragman Rolls, confirming their duty of homage to King Edward I of England.  The MacAulays were confirmed as vassals of the Earl of Lennox in a roll of Highland landlords in 1587.

In medieval and early modern times, the history of Scotland and its clans was extremely volatile, and a number of clans were virtually destroyed by their association with the aggressive MacGregors.   There was a bond of friendship between MacAulay of Ardencaple and MacGregor of Glenstrae in May of 1591, in which the MacAulay chief swore himself to be a cadet of the MacGregors at a time when there was no advantage in such an admission.  Three years later,  the MacAulays joined the MacGregors in the roll of 'broken' clans.

At any rate, Lennox protection saved them from the fate to which their connection to the MacGregors exposed them, and they retained their castle and lands of Ardencaple until these were sold for debt to the Campbell Duke of Argyll in 1767.



The MacKinnons also claim descent from Fingon, making it a close family relationship of  Clann Gregor.

Originally, the MacKinnons enjoyed extensive lands in Mull, beneath whose mountains Iona lies.  But they lost a great part of these to the MacDonald sponsored-MacLeans, although their Chiefs retained their castle of Dunara.  Ewen, their chief in the 16th century received from the King a charter to the lands of Meysness and Strathardal.  Their principal strongholds were at Dunakin and another at Dunringill.

Their 28th Chief, Sir Lachlan MacKinnon, was knighted by Charles I on the fatal field of Worcester in 1651, before Cromwell destroyed the Scottish army.  The clan remained loyal to the Stewarts in the Revolutions of 1688, 1715, and 1745.  Its fighting forces were estimated at two hundred at Culloden.

The last of the direct line of the Chiefs of Clan Fingon died in poverty.  Francis MacKinnon of MacKinnon, 35th Chief, who resided at Drumduan, near Forres. died in 11947, aged 95.  His son, Arthur A. MacKinnon of MacKinnon. is the present chief.


Clan Henderson (or MacKendrick in Gaelic) possessed a legendary ancestor, in Eanruig Mawr Mac Ri Nehhtonn - 'Great Henry, son of King Nechtan'.  The chiefship passed to an heiress, thereby severing the male line in the Chief's family, and she married an Angus Og of Islay.  Their son, Iain Fraoch, who eventually, settled  in the lands of Glencoe of his grandfather to whom he was heir.  His son became known as Iain Abrach (John of Lochaber) who pledged the family, MacIain, to the MacDonald chiefs of Glencoe.  The MacKendricks in Glencoe were eventually absorbed into the MacIains of Glencoe.

They formed the MacDonald Chief's bodyguard, and they were the first to carry the dead chief's coffin in a funeral procession.  The benevolent assimilation of Hendersons with the MacDonalds was is stark contrast to what occurred when the Campbells obtained a similar footing in the lands of the MacGregors.

In the far north, another tribe of Hendersons arose of equally ancient, but entirely different origins.  Here the chiefs of Clann Gunn had become hereditary coroners of Caithness, and one of these, George Gunn, possessed a younger son, Hendry, from whom the Henderson sept came into being in the 15th century.

The name has shed extraordinary lustre on Scottish literature.  Henry the Minstrel is perhaps the best known of all those wandering bards who recited the deeds of centuries.  He live din the 15th century and recreated William Wallace as a folk hero of singular strength and ferocity, quite unlike the statesman and skilled strategist of history

In 1643, Alexander Henderson, was among the Scottish commissioners to the Westminster assembly, who tried to force Scottish Presbyterianism on the unwilling English as the price of Scotland's military support against Charles I.  He died in 1646, just as his party reached the summit of its success.


Clann DUFF

Spelled either MacDuff, MacDuffie, MacFie, MacPhee or MacAfie, this clan was originally the Picto-Scot royal line of which Queen Grouch  (Lady MacBeth), was the senior representative.  From early times, the MacDuffs held the title of the Earl of Fife.  

The Earls of Fife became the premier subject of the kingdom, and enjoyed a number of special privileges; they bore the heraldic red lion rampant of the royal house, and enthroned the King of Scots on the stone of Scone at his coronation; the right to lead the Royal army; and the right of sanctuary at the cross of MacDuff, near Newburgh.

After the death of her second husband, King MacBeth, who also belonged to the house of Duff - her son by her first husband succeeded as King Lulach, but was murdered in 1058.  Malcom Canmore won the crown, and as much of Scottish territory he could - with English help.

In Moray, the MacDuffs reigned as kings beyond the reach of Canmore.  Margaret's eldest son, Ethelred MacDuff, changed his name to the Gaelic, Aedh, and succeeded to the position of hereditary Abbot of Abernethy, the ancient Pict capital whose round tower is one of the finest surviving examples of the Columban church.

Today, the direct line of the ancient house has been continued in the family of Wemyss.


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 Onnust, 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.


Forbes was originally called Forbais.  It was derived from the Gaelic Forba for field, and the Pict suffix ais.  A colourful legend tells of how the ancestor of the clan, Ochonochar, won possession of the land by killing a bear that had been terrorizing the district.  

That same year the estate was converted into a barony.  Alexander de Forbes was a fierce opponent of Edward I of England, and was killed while laying siege to Urquhart Castle (1303).  His son died at the Battle of Dupplin (1332).

The Forbeses (Foirbe is) descend from a thirteenth-century noble family, originally dynastic (i.e., local sub-kings), known as "of the Aird" (southeastern Ross); a family whose earlier branches include the MacKenzies and Mathesons, and the Clan Aindreis, whose leadership was inherited by the ancestor of the O’Beolain earls of Ross.

The Forbes clan inhabited the territory on the mid to upper reaches of the Don River in Aberdeenshire, which was once in the Northern Pict Kingdom.   They were confirmed in their ownership of these lands in a charter by Alexander III in  thirteenth century, and had their castle, castle Forbes, in what is now the barony of Forbes on Donside. Beginning in 1271. mid-fifteenth century, their history was dominated by their struggle with the neighboring Gordons, with whom they differed in religion,

The clan rose to national prominence in the 15th century, largely through the activities of Sir John Forbes and his four sons. 


Tradition tells us that the Sutherlands descend from the pre-Christian tribe of the Caith: the modern counties of Caithness and Sutherland were formerly known as the Pict province of Caith.  A wild cat is the Sutherland crest.

This family derives from the eldest son of Lord Freskin, son of Ollec, a Pict, descendent of the ancient Mormaers of Moray, according to the late Lord Lyon, King of arms, Sir Thomas Innes.  It is named after the southernmost province of the former Norse Scottish possessions.  In AD1130, the family was granted land in Duffus and Moray, gaining the title of Earl of Sutherland a century later. This is the oldest earldom in Britain.

A Sutherland clan evolved with a Chief powerful enough to protect the most northerly cathedral on the British mainland.  at Dornoch.  The 14th and 15th centuries were a period of baronial anarchy in Scotland, with the crown in eclipse under weak kings.  The Gordons were invested with Royal powers in the north, and used them to seize Sutherland earldom.

In 1494, Adam Gordon obtained a false charge of idiocy against Earl John of Sutherland.  Adam married the Earl's daughter in about 1500.  He brought a further charge of idiocy against Earl John's elder son, and a false charge of bastardy against his younger son.  The death of King James IV at Flodden in 1513, with the best of Scotland's nobility, made it easier for the Gordons to consummate their crimes against their neighbours. 

Adam Gordon called himself "Earl of Sutherland" without ever obtaining a title from the crown, murdered one of Earl John's heirs, and terrorized the Sutherlands so they would not dare oppose his claims.  When this false Earl died in 1766,  a legal battle broke out between the Gordons and the old Sutherland family for the title.  The House of Lords decided to bestow the title and property to the late Earl's daughter, keeping it in the Gordon family.  It so happened her husband was a member of the fabulously wealthy Leveson-Gower family of England, who was created the first Duke of Sutherland.

Meanwhile, the Sutherlands of Forse continued to represent the disinherited line of the old Sutherland Chiefs.  Although the castles of their descendants at Spynie and Duffus were battered by the Gordons, they survived into Jocobean times.  Kenneth Sutherland, Lord Duffus,  joined the 1715 rebellion and forfeited his estates.  He fled abroad and became an Admiral in the Imperial Russian Navy, and married a Swedish noblewoman.  Although the Duffus estates were restored to his grandson, his line is now extinct.

Ironically, Kenneth enjoys an immortality as his portrait in the Scottish Gallery is one of the earliest and most interesting of a Scottish nobleman wearing the kilt.


The ancient territory if this clan slopes down from the high massif of Ben Wyvis, to the shores of he Cromarty Firth and the fertile farmlands of Easter Ross.  The area is rich in Pictish remains.  The first Munro, Hugh of Foulis, lived on Easter Ross and died in 1126.  Their lands were within the territory of he Earls of Ross with whom they held their charter.  In the early 13th century, George Munro of Foulis held a charter for the territory from the Earl of Sutherland.

Clan Chief, Robert Munro, fought for Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn.  Later, the Munros forged their own royal connection when Robert Munro married a niece of King Robert II's Queen, Euphemia.

Alexander Munro of Kiltearn (1605 - 1653) conducted his ministry at Durness beside Cape Wrath in the  most distant corner of Scotland.  His signature appears on documents as a Justice of the Peace throughout the 1630s.  Alexander was the first to commit the Bible to Gaelic poetry for the benefit of his parishioners.  At this time, four other Munros were enrolled as Ministers, two at Caithness and two at Sutherland.

In 1627, a unique work of Gaelic compositions was published by Alexander Munro.  Robert Munro rose to the rank of General  in a MacKay regiment in the thirty years war on he continent.  He published his account of the perils of the MacKay regiment in that terrible war, a record that has no parallels.

A Robert Munro, descendant of the 10th Chief of Foulis, who was Commissary of Caithness, and who died in 1633.  Four of his sons fought against Cromwell at Worcester in 1651, of whom William Munro and his three brothers were transported to New England as prisoners after the royalist defeat.

The descendants of Robert multiplied fast, and it fell upon one of them to make a symbolic gesture of retribution, as one Ebenezer Munro fired the first shot in the American Revolution.  In 1816, James Munro became the fifth U.S. President between 1817 and 1825.  It was by a stroke of a pen that he warned European nations not to interfere in his country's shores in a declaration, known thereafter as 'the Munro Doctrine'..


The usurpation of the Scottish throne by Malcom Canmore's sons by his second wife, the  English Queen Margaret, was for a long time resisted in the north of Scotland.  Her youngest son, David, gave feudal powers in the (eventually) conquered Pict district of Moray to Lord Freskin, son of Ollec, a descendent of the ancient Pict Mormaers of Moray, whose grandson assumed the name of William of Moray (Pict translation is Moireahh, meaning men of the sea, later Anglicized to Murray).

This family  was to become the most powerful by far of all Pict clans in existence.  Two of its members actually ruled Scotland as Regents (one who rules when the actual ruler is unfit or absent).  Successive Norman Kings indulged in ethnic cleansing of the north of Scotland and removed many lower echelon families in favour of Anglo-Normans, but the Murrays were above all that.  Freskin had been a loyal supporter of the Scottish Monarchy, and therefore his descendants were favoured with generous grants of land.   The old Pict province of Moray was the mot powerful of all its kingdoms, and its king automatically inherited the throne of all Albann.

The first Lord, Sir Walter Murray, was a Regent of Scotland in 1255, and later in that century, a magnificent stone castle of 
Bothwell was built.  Edward I of England occupied it in 1296, and kept it strongly garrisoned when he was trying to subdue Scotland.  Sir Andrew Murray, its 3rd Lord, was taken to England and kept in the tower of London, where he died.

His son, Andrew Murray, captured the castles of Urquhart and Aberdeen from the English, and gradually extended his conquests south until he joined forces with William Wallace.  In 1297, the two resistance leaders defeated the English at Stirling Bridge.  But Murray had been wounded in the battle, and died soon afterwards leaving Wallace without his ablest colleague.

Andrew Murray's son of the same name succeeded him as the 4th Lord of Bothwell, and was Regent of Scotland when he was killed in battle against the English at Halidon Hill in 1333.   By 1360, the Lordship of its great castle had been transferred in marriage to the mighty house of Douglas.

The Murrays had multiplied by that time from Sutherland to the border, and they had already acquired other properties through marriage also.  In about 1320, Sir John Moray obtained Abercairney with the hand of the 7th Earl of Strathearn.  Another Strathearn marriage brought Sir William Murray the property at Tullibardine, which was erected into a Barony in 1443.

A century later, this branch was judged by the Lord Lyon to be the Chiefs of the clan.  Sir John Murray was created Earl of Tullibardine in 1608. and the 2nd Earl married the Stewart heiress of Atholl.  So the Murray chiefs became in time the Dukes of Atholl.

Among the younger sons of the house of Tullibardine, Sir William Murray, and his sons did very well.  Sir David Murray was rewarded with the abbey properties of Scone which had belonged to the Earls of Gowrie since he Reformation.  This family rose to the rank of Viscount Stormont, and then Earl of Mansfield, and built Scone palace, in which they still live.

Another younger son of Tullibardine was Patrick Murray, who founded the house of Ochtertyre.  It was raised to a baronetcy in 1673.  Sir William Murray, the 11th baronet, sill lives at Ochtertyre today.

Queen Anne made Atholl a duke in 1703, and he was able to cal out 4,000 armed Athollmen in an attempt to oppose he union in 1707.  Fortunately for his house, he did not support the Jacobite rebellions.  However, his eldest son, the Marquess of Tullibardine, led a contingent of Murrays to the standard of Bonnie Prince Charles, and his younger brother became the leading General of the Jacobite army.

Lord George Murray had already served under his brothers at Sheriffmuir in 1715.  It was observed by many that if Prince Charles had slept during the whole of the expedition, he would have found the crown of Great Britain on his head when he awoke.  However, it had been Murray who insisted on the retreat from Derby in opposition to Charles, and that was a fatal error.   During the retreat, Murray actually besieged his father's own castle at Blair Atholl, which was occupied at the time by Hanoverian troops. 

The present chiefs of the clan Murray are the Dukes of Atholl, and they command the only private army still allowed in Scotland..




The surname Cunningham is derived from the district of that name in Ayrshire.  The descent of the Cunninghams is traditionally from Malcom, a son of Freskin, making this clan a cadet of the Murrays.  Hugh of Moreville, Constable of Scotland, granted to Warnebald the property of Kilmaurs in the district of Cunningham in Ayrshire. When King Haakon IV of Norway, brought his fleet to the Scottish coast in 1263, to assert his authority over the Western Isles, Harvey Cunningham of Kilmaurs was among those who helped to repulse him at the Battle of Largs.

Hugh de Cunningham received the lands of Lamburgton from Robert the Bruce in 1321.  His grandson, Sir William. married the heiress of Danielston, and he acquired Finlaystoun, which became one of the principal seats of the family.  His grandson, Sir Alexander, was created Lord Kilmaurs in 1462, and Earl of Glencairn in 1488.  William 3rd Earl, was captured at the rout of Solway Moss, but released but was released on a promise to promote a marriage between Edward VI to Mary Queen of Scots.

William, 8th Earl, was Lord Justice-General of Scotland, and raised a rebellion in the Highlands for Charles II in 1653 that was doomed to failure.  When Scotland came under the iron grip of Cromwell's Generals, he fled to the continent but returned at the Restoration to become Chancellor of Scotland.  James 13th Earl, sold Kilmaurs in 1786. His brother, John, 14th Earl, is remembered as a close friend of Robert Burns, and after his death in 1791, Burns wrote the moving 'Lament for the Earl of Glencairn'.

The bridegroom may forget the bride,
Was made his wedded wife yestreen;
The monarch may forget the crown
That on his head an hour has been;
The mother may forget the child
That smiles sae sweetly on her knee;
But I'll remember thee, Glencairn,
And a' that thou hast done for me.

Sir Alexander Cunningham, 7th Lord of Corsehill, was created a Baronet in 1673, and his representative, Sir William  Montgomery Cunningham, 11th Baronet, is regarded as the present chief of the Clan Cunningham, and the rightful heir of the Earldom of Glencairn.


The Clan MacBean claims descent from the 8th century House of Moray.  The name can be spelled either MacBean, MacBain or MacVean.  The main branch of the clan were the MacBeans of Kinchyle, on Loch Ness, where there is now a MacBean memorial Park.  They originated in Lochaber but later were transplanted to east Inverness-Shire. The MacBeans belonged to the Clan Chattan, a confederation of mostly Pict-descended clans in the north, who were opposed to the transfer of power from Picto-Scot Celts to Anglo/Normans.  Thereby the deadly rivalry between the Comyns and the Bruces.

They were associated with the MacKintoshes, and supported that clan against John Comyn, Robert the Bruce's rival for the Scots crown.  There was a constant struggle for leadership of the Clan Chattan, (which was typical of Pict politics) and many MacBeans fought and died on the MacKintosh side in the Battle of Harlaw in 1411.  One MacBean was credited with killing the Steward of Red Comyn.

The MacBeans were exceptionally warlike.  During the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, one Giles MacBean killed 14 Hanoverian soldiers before being cut down himself.  The clans greatest figure was William MacBean, who won the Victoria Cross in 1858 for his bravery during the Indian Mutiny.


The Buchans (Buchan) derive their name from the earldom of Buchan in northwest Scotland, and are the original "tribe of the land" in that province.  The district of Buchan in Aberdeenshire became a from of identification for inhabitants who lived there.  Others carried the name to the extreme north.  Richard of Buchan was a clerk of the bishopric of Aberdeen in 1207.   Andrew Buchan became the Bishop of Caithness.  Walter Buchan was Canon of St. Magnus Cathedral at Kirkwall in Orkney in 1369.  At an early date, the name was carried to Edinburgh, and to the Barony of Morton.

The heads of the family were the original Mormaers of the province prior to its passage to the Comyn family via an heiress in the thirteenth century.  

One of the principle families to emerge in Aberdeenshire was the Buchans of Auchmacoy, which produced an early Jacobite general, Thomas Buchan.  he was the third son of James Buchan of Auchmacoy.  After the death of Bonnie Dundee at Killiecrankie in 1689, General Thomas Buchan became the leader of James VII's forces in Scotland in their opposition to William of Orange's usurpation.  He was defeated and went into exile in 1692.

Since then the name has acquired increasing celebrity in the literary field, culminating in that of the novelist, John Buchan (1878 - 1940).  Buchan of Auchmacoy is now considered chief of the name by Lyon Court of Scotland.


'Urquhart' is a typical ancient Orcadian/Pict name.  It traditionally sprang from an ancient sea-faring tribe that settled at Cromarty, on the south side of the Firth, and gave it its name.  William 'Urchard' (Gaelic translation), their first recorded ancestor, defended the Motte of Cromarty against the English in the service of Wallace.  Prior to 1358, his son, Adam of Urchard, gained the hereditary Sheriffdom of Cromarty from the Earl of Ross. 

Advantageous marriages greatly increased the Urquharts' influence in the 15th century.  Alexander Urquhart, 7th Sheriff, married Beatrix Innes of Auchintoul, and had two sons, of whom the younger, John, founded he House of Craigfintry.  Walter, the elder, was grandfather of Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty, knighted by James VI.  He married Helen, a daughter of Hugh, Earl of Ross, and fathered 25 sons.  The eldest, Alexander, was granted lands in Ross-shire and Inverness-shire by King James V.  His son, Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty, was famous as the translator of Rabelais, other literary works, and a 'fantasy' genealogy of the Urquhart family back to Adam and Eve.   He was captured at the Battle of  Worcester, and died unmarried about 1660.

Sir Thomas was succeeded by his brother, Sir Alexander, at whose death, the line passed to Urquhart of Craigfintry, in the person of John Urquhart of Craigston, great-grandson of the celebrated tutor of Cromarty.  Upon the death of his grandson, Colonel James Urquhart, the chiefship passed to William Urquhart of Meldrum.

Recently, Kenneth Trist Urquhart was found heir male of the family by Lyon Court, and claims chiefship of the clan.

Interestingly, the Castle Urquhart fell into Clan Grant ownership, and was the scene of the last recorded use of the fiery cross in its defence.  This castle was once a great Pict fortress, and has been under archeological examination for some time.


This name is a corruption of the old Orcadian/Pict, "Uuam", meaning cave; since translated into modern Irish as Uaimh and into Scottish Gaelic as Uamh.   (The old Irish name for cave was prochóg, the old Scottish Gaelic name was brugh).  On the coast of Fife, deep in the Pict heartland, beneath the ruins of MacDuff's castle, are some caves containing Pict drawings; and these caves gave Uuamais (place of the caves) or the Anglicized, Wemyss, its name.  It became a surname of a cadet branch of the Royal house of Duff.

When senior male lines of the Duff family failed, that of the Wemyss became Chief of Scotland's senior clan, although they never reverted to the surname of MacDuff.  Sir Michael Wemyss ensured the prosperity of his family by supporting the cause of Robert the Bruce.  Thereafter, the name multiplied into many branches. 

Its senior rose to the peerage in the reign of Charles I.  In the 18th century, they emerged as the senior representatives of the ancient earldom of Fife.   The Earl's eldest son supported the cause of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and afterwards was arrested.  His younger brother assumed his titles.

This Earl adopted the name of Charteris, and it remains  the name of the Earls of Wemyss to this day. The chiefship of the Clan MacDuff passed to a younger son of the 5th Earl.  This family has not changed their name.

The 12th Earl of Wemyss, and 8th Earl of March, is Chief with the name of Charteris.  He is President of the National Trust of Scotland, while his brother, Lord Charteris, is Chairman of the National Heritage Memorial  Fund.


This clan originated from the Pict, Guiaire, (Godfrey) a brother of the Pict Monk, Fingon.  Their clan lands included the island of Ulva and part of the far larger island of Mull.

The MacQuarries followed the MacDonalds, then the MacLeans of Duart, and they were badly affected by the defeat at Inverkeithing (1651) when the clan was almost wiped out fighting for Charles II.  

The descendants of the last laird of Ulva distinguished themselves in the army and in India; but the most famous of all was Lachlan MacQuarrie, his cousin (1762 - 1824).  Born in Ulva, he rose to the rank of Major-General and then returned to buy an estate in Mull.   

Lachlan MacQuarrie did an immense service to Australia.  He was appointed Governor of New South "Wales in 1809, transforming it from a penal settlement to a thriving colony during his tenure.  He restored order, promoted education, road-building and exploration.  He also enacted strict Sabbatical rules.  MacQuarrie earned well the title that he shared with his rival, John Mac Arthur, as the father of Australia.


The Grants are descended from Gregor Mhor MacGREGOR, who lived in the 12th century.  Their territory was Strathspey, where an extensive moor called 'Griantoch' (Plain of the Sun) is the origin of their name.  Their cadet coat of arms proved this.                 

Their Chiefs became hereditary Sheriffs of Inverness.  They supported Robert Bruce and consequently were allotted additional lands in Glen Moriston and Glen Urquhart. Through adroit marriages and astute political maneuvering, the Grants were elevated to a Barony in 1493.

When the parent Clan Gregor was a proscribed and hunted clan, and the Grants being a prosperous clan, representatives of the two clans met at Blair Atholl for a fortnight and discussed reunion, and the adoption of the old name MacGregor, if the government could be persuaded to lift the proscription that forbade its use.
Alternatively, it was agreed to use the name MacAlpine or Grant.  Not unnaturally, the negotiations foundered over the question of the chiefship.  Several delegates from both sides took the old name, MacAlpine, to show theirGeneral U.S. Grant disappointment.

For his support in the Revolution of 1688, King William granted the chief the Regality of Grant in 1694, enabling them to rule as monarchs in their clan territory.   In spite of the clan's support  for the house of Hanover in 1715 and 1745, the regality was abolished with all such independent jurisdictions after Culloden.

The clan has strong American associations.  The colourful General James Grant served as a professional soldier in Austria and the Low countries, he went to America during the War of Independence.   There, he was closely involved in the capture of Havana and St. Lucia before becoming Governor of East Florida.

 A century later, General Ulysses S. Grant led the Union forces during the American Civil War before becoming the 18th US President.

The savior of the Union, Hero of the American Civil War, and later President of the United States of America for two terms, Ulysses S. Grant, was a direct descendent (on the male side) of  Gregor Mohr MacGregor, who founded the Clan Grant.  

Although not publicly recognized as a MacGregor in life, he certainly was in death, as he spent the last months of his life at Mount MacGregor Sanatorium.

His body was first buried in the MacGregor Cemetery near Saratoga, New York, before being re-interred at a proper National Monument in New York City.



The son of "Paul" in Gaelic, this name can be found in various forms: MacVail, MacFaul, MacPhiel, and Polson.  It is a branch of the MacKays, tracing their originator back to the son of Neil MacNeil MacKay, in the early 15th century.  The name was common in the area around Ardchattan and Glenlyon.


"Son of the Abbot" a reference to the clan's descent from the Pict secular abbots of St. Fillan's near Loch Earn.  When the Pict Celtic church was dismantled, the MacNabs continue to hold their property as the Barony of Glen Dochart.  The MacNabs, similar to the Glen Orchy MacGregors, lost many of their lands after opposing Robert the Bruce, following the murder of their relative, Red Comyn.  However, some of these lands were restored under David II in AD1336.

In 1594, they were listed as one of he broken clans of the Highlands.  Their neighbours were the MacNeishes, a MacGregor sept.  Iain MacNab died fighting for Charles II at Worcester in 1651.  The MacNabs were dispossessed of their lands by the Campbells but they were returned at the Stuart Restoration in 1660.

John MacNab gained fame for his exploits with Montrose,  and his daring escape from capture.  Archibald MacNab fled to Ontario, Canada, to escape his debts in 1823, founding the settlements of MacNab and Arnprior by the Ottawa River.   Sir Allan MacNab became Prime Minister of Canada.

Clann SHAW

The ancestor of he clan was Shaw MacDuff, who was also the founder of he clan MacIntosh.  The Shaws naturally became part of the Clan Chattan Confederation.  Shaw, the 2nd Chief, was Captain of the Confederation during the Angus raid of 1391 and the combat of champions at North Inch in 1396. 

In 1468, his grandson, Aedh, acquired  the lands of Tordarroch in Strathnairn, founding a new branch of the clan.  This became known as Clan Aedh or Ay.  The Shaws also held land on Harris and the Isles.


In 1697, Lord Lyon stated that John Farquharson was the lawful descendent of Shaw, son of Macduff.  So the Farquharsons branched out from Clan Shaw.  John Farquharson's son, Donald, married the heiress of Invercauld.  Finlay Mor Farquharson was killed carrying the Royal standard at Pinkie in 1547.  Thus, the Farquharsons became vassals of the Murrays as they moved into Invercauld.

In the 18th century, they became fervent supporters of the Jacobite cause, taking part in the battles of Preston, Falkirk, and Culloden.  One of their number gained notoriety as the "Black Colonel", whose deeds were celebrated in many ballads.


Originally, at least some of the MacKinlays came from the Lennox district around Loch Lomond.  The name MacKinlay comes from the Gaelic form of Findlayson meaning "son of Findlay" or MacFhionnlaigh (son of the white-skinned people) (pronounced MacKinlay).  The name is not common despite being distinctively Scottish Gaelic but is also to be found in county Antrim in Ulster.  Other forms of the name are Finlay, Finlayson and MacKinley.  Curiously, the clan of Finlay Mór in the braes of Mar do not use this form of surname.  It is only among those descendants who emigrated to the lowlands that the names of Finlay, Findlayson and MacKinlay came into use.   In Lochalsh and Kintail, the surname of MacFhionnlaigh in Gaelic and Finlayson in English derive from the parent stock of the Farquharsons of Braemar.

Many MacKinlays moved to Ulster in the early 17th century, where they sometimes altered their name to MacGinley, while those who crossed the Atlantic, often used the name, MacKinley.  The MacKinlays have been connected to the Farquharsons, the Buchanans and sometimes the Stewarts of Appin.  From the MacKinlays descended William MacKinley (1843-1901), the 25th President of the United States of America who also gave his name to Mount MacKinley in Alaska, which is the highest mountain in North America.



For a time, the MacKenzies were thought to have derived from the Irish house of Fitzgerald but that theory is now discredited.  It is now generally accepted that they are derived from a younger son of Gilleon of the Aird, from whose elder son descended Farquhar Mac an t-Sagairt, ancestor of the Rosses.  The forefathers of the MacKenzies were therefore, originally junior kinsmen and vassals of the ancient Beolain Earls (previously Mormaers) of Ross.

MacKenzie territory was unique in that it straddled Albann from sea to sea.  Although much of it was not particularly arable, it was both beautiful and awesome.  One could travel from Applecross to the Moray Firth without ever leaving MacKenzie land, and this feature gave the MacKenzies considerable clout.

In the late 13th century, their chief was Kinnid, twelfth in descent from Gilleon of the Aird, according to the old genealogical records.  Kinnid (or Kenneth) was Governor of Eilean Donan Castle, on Loch Duich, under the Earl of Ross.  This remained the western stronghold of the MacKenzies for centuries, and still is there today.

In 1270, Kenneth rebelled against his superior Earl William of Ross, and successfully held Eilean Donan against him, thereby establishing himself as an independent chief.  The clan took its name from Kenneth, and due partly to its control of the mouth of Loch Duich, the Clan were named as royal bodyguards.  The Scottish King needed them to thwart the possibility of another Norse invasion through that area.

Kenneth's son, John, sheltered Bruce at Eilean Donan in 1306, and led 500 of this men at Bannockburn.  John's son, Kenneth, and grandson, Murdoch, managed to maintain their independence from the Earls of Ross.  Murdoch's grandson, Alexander Ionraic, 6th Chief of Kintail, was seized at Inverness by James I in 1427.  He was lucky, as he was a mere boy, he was sent to the High School in Perth.

By now, the MacKenzies' official overlords were the Lords of the Isles, the MacDonalds, who had acquired the Earldom of Ross by marriage.  However, when the MacDonalds raised a rebellion against the king in 1429, the MacKenzies fought on the side of the king.  In 1476, Alexander received a royal charter of much of the lands forfeited by the Macdonalds, including Strathconan and Strathgarve.

Alexander was succeeded by his son, Kenneth a'Bhlair.  Kenneth earned his name by his victory over the MacDonalds at Blàr-na-Pàirc in 1491 in Strathpeffer.  The eldest of his sons, Kenneth Og, held the chiefship very briefly until he was murdered by the Laird of Buchanan in 1497.  His half-brother, John of Killin, became the 9th Chief of Kintail.  John was a man of cunning, who recognized the King's power in the north, so he built his clan's  fortunes by using the law rather than the sword.

In 1509, he obtained a royal charter of Kintail, Eilean Donan and other lands erected into a barony; he received seven further charters of land in the course of his long reign, as well as the revenue from gathering the customs of Inverness and the keepership pf Sleat Castle.  He was taken prisoner at Flodden in 1513, but was rescued by a woman in whose house his English escort stopped for the night: but an amazing coincidence she had once been shipwrecked and sheltered in the MacKenzie country.

After his return to Scotland, he was appointed Lieutenant of Wester Ross.  In 1547, at the age of 65, he fought at the Battle of Pinkie where he was wounded.  His resourcefulness did not desert him in old age.   When the young Queen Mary  sent her chamberlain north to assess the wealth of he Highland chiefs, MacKenzie filled his house at Killin with dogs and cattle, his servants creating such squalor with discarded offal and straw that the disgusted courtiers left at dawn.  They reported to the Queen that the Highland chiefs lived like princes except for MacKenzie.  As a result of his deception, he was assessed much less than the others, though by now he had created a small empire in the Highlands.

John's son and grandson both continued the expansion of MacKenzie power.  During the chiefship of his grandson, Colin, a feud erupted with the MacDonnells of Glengarry which continued into the time of Colin's son, Kenneth, 12th of Kintail, who succeeded in 1594.  By 1607, the MacDonnells were defeated and their lands of Lochalsh and Lochcarron ceded to the MacKenzies by royal charter.

Two years later, after the failure of the Fife Adventurers' efforts to colonize the island of Lewis in the name of James VI, MacKenzie managed to buy their rights from the king and established himself as overlord of the former MacLeod lands of Lewis and the mainland.  He was raised to the peerage as Lord MacKenzie of Kintail, and his son, Colin, was created Earl of Seaforth in 1623.

Their enlarged territory now amounted to a small Kingdom.  Their great castle at Eilean Donan was held for them by the Macraes, nicknamed 'MacKenzie's Shirt of Mail'.  George, 2nd Earl of Seaforth, at first opposed Montrose, but became disillusioned with the Covenanters, and joined the Royalists in 1646.   From then on, the MacKenzies adhered strongly to the House of Stuart and their cause, and this led to their undoing.

Seaforth followed Charles II into exile, where he held the empty title of Secretary of State.  His son, Kenneth, 3rd Earl, fought in the royal army at Worcester and led an unsuccessful Highland rebellion against Cromwell in 1654.  The Restoration brought a return to prosperity for the MacKenzies, but at the Revolution, the 4th Earl went into exile with James VII.  He returned to Scotland and raised his clan for the Stuart cause, but was forced to surrender to General MacKay, and remained in prison until 1697.Field Marshal August von Mackenson, descendent of a MacKenzie refugee form the highlands.

William, the 5th Earl, brought 3,000 men to the Jacobite army in 1715, and fought at Sheriffmuir.  He fled to France, and his estates and peerage were forfeited.  Four years later, he was the prime \mover in the smallest of he Jacobite rebellions, the 'nineteen'.  In May of 1719, Seaforth, the Earl of Marischal and the Marquess of Tullibane landed in Kintail with 300 Spanish troops.  They were joined by 500 MacKenzies and by Rob Roy and his wild MacGregors, but were defeated at Glenshiel.  Eileen Donan was blown up by English sailors but Seaforth managed to escape to France, and was pardoned in 1726.

During the 'forty-five', his impoverished heir, Kenneth, was reluctant to join the rising and even sent a token force of officers to command the government's Independent Companies of Highlanders.

Nevertheless, at least 500 MacKenzies did fight for Prince Charlie.  After Culloden, and the persecution of all Highlanders, many MacKenzies were forced to flee their homeland.  They made their mark on the world in ways few people realize.

In 1771, the MacKenzie chief was again created Earl of Seaforth, and in 1778, he raised the 1st Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders, a regiment which still wears the MacKenzie tartan.

In 1979, the Earl of Cromartie was recognized by the Lord Lyon as the Chief of Clan MacKenzie.   Among famous MacKenzies who went overseas, are Alexander MacKenzie, explorer and factor of the Hudson Bay Company, who gave his name to Canada's longest river.   Also Canadian Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, an outstanding UN peacekeeper in Yugoslavia who is a household word in Canada.

Perhaps the most outstanding MacKenzie of all was Field Marshal August von Mackensen of the Imperial German Army, who was the brilliant tactician who commanded the combined German/Austrian forces on the Eastern front in 1915, when his armies overran Russian positions, Serbia, and eventually Rumania and the Ukraine, effectively taking Russia out of the war.

Think of the grand things some of those Highlanders could have accomplished at home if British leaders had been more tolerant.


MacRae means son of Grace from the P-Celtic 'Gras'.   The Irish name form is MacGrath.  The clan's origins were ecclesiastical.  Early records place them in Clunes, near Beauly.  They were at first vassals of the Earls of Ross, but later became devoted to the MacKenzies.  By the 14th century, they were well established in their traditional heartland, Kintail, at the head of Loch Duich, which was named after a Celtic Saint who was martyred on the island of Eigg. Eilean Donan Castle gurdeed the entrance to Loch Duich .  It was the key to MacKenzie power, and the MacRaes were the MacKenzies shirt of mail that manned the castle for centuries.

As a part of their duties, they were constables of Eilean Donan Castle.  There, they proved loyal supporters of the MacKenzies, earning the nick-name of ' the MacKenzies shirt of mail'.  In 1539, the MacDonald Lords of the Isles, attempted to take Eilean Donald, but Duncan MacRae shot the MacDonald Chief with an arrow from the castle battlements, and he died of the wound.  Some years later, Duncan MacRae, Chamberlain of Eilean Donan, was granted the estate of Inverinate. 

After the Reformation, the MacRaes added to their warlike reputation in the fields of religion and literature.  However, with the advent of William of Orange, the Episcopalians in Scotland were persecuted, eventually destroying the cultured aristocracy of the Highlands.

Notable family members were: John MacRae, who in 1774,  emigrated to America just in time to fight on the wrong side of the American War of Independence, and died during his imprisonment.  But before he died, he composed 'the Gaelic songs in America' which were carried back across the Atlantic and preserved by oral tradition in Kintail, Donnachadh nam Pios  'Duncan of the Silver Cups', who compiled the Fernaig Manuscript (1688 - 1693), an important anthology of Gaelic verse, James MacRae (1677 - 1744), Governor of Madras, India, and Colonel John MacRae, a Canadian medical officer who wrote the most memorable soldier's verse to come out of the horror of the First World War; In Flanders Fields.

Every Canadian school child learns this poem, and knows the name of Colonel John MacRae.

In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row that mark our place,
And in the sky, the Larks still bravely singing fly
We are the dead, short days ago we lived 
Felt dawn saw sunset glow, loved and were loved,
And now we lie in Flanders Fields.

To you from failing hands we throw the torch
Be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die we shall not rest
Though poppies grow in Flanders Fields.

A few short weeks after writing this remarkable poem, Col. John MacRae was killed in action.

Author's note: Ironically, I live on MacCrea Road, a misspelling of MacRae.


The name, Mac an Toiseich,  literally means "son of the Chief".  This clan originated from Shaw MacDuff, a younger son of the Macduff Earl of Fife.  He was made Constable of Inverness Castle in 1163, gaining the nearby lands of Petty in the valley of the Findhorn River.

The 4th Mackintosh of this line obtained a lease of Rothiemurchus, where his son, Farquhar, Mackintosh was living when he raised the men of Badenoch for Alexander III to repel the invasion of King Haakon of Norway.  In 1291, a marriage between Angus, 6th Chief, and Eva, the heiress of Clan Chattan, and the Mackintoshes became leaders of this confederation.  It was during this period that the MacGillivrays put themselves under his protection, and became members of Clan Chattan.

In 1528, James V issued a royal directive to wipe out the Mackintoshes, leaving 'no creature living of that clan except priests, women and bairns'.  The prescribed methods of execution were 'slaughter, burning, drowning, and other ways'.  The Gordons were to be the 'Royal' executioners.

In later years, there were damaging feuds with the Gordons and the Camerons, but the clan gained renown for the Rout of May, 1746, when Lady Mackintosh, nicknamed 'Colonel' Anne, tricked a force of 1,500 government troops into fleeing from a handful of her retainers.  He supported Robert Bruce against Edward I even though the powerful Comyns, who dominated the territories of Clan Chattan, supported Edward.

The 7th Chief was able to acquire the barony of Moy where his successor lives to this day.  The 10th chief made an astute choice when the Lord of the Isles brought his army to Harlow in 1411.  The Mackintoshes fought for the crown, and their Chief was appointed Constable of Inverness by James I.

Despite their loyalty to the crown, the Mackintoshes fell victim to Stewart policies towards the Highlands.  In 1496, the 9th Mackintosh was ordered to hand Inverness Castle to the Gordons.  The 12th Chief was seized in one of the many royal kidnapping operations and imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh.

With the resulting power vacuum, the Gordons and the Campbells fomented anarchy and chaos throughout the former Mackintosh territories.  The 14th Chief succeeded in obtaining a charter to his lands from James V in 1523.  However, his successor was murdered by the Gordons in 1544, and his property was forfeited on a trumped up charge..

In 1550, the 16th Chief was able to secure an Act of Parliament reversing the forfeiture, and 10 years later, he was invested with the stewardship of Lochaber.  In 1562, he had the satisfaction of fighting  in the army of Queen Mary against Gordon of Huntly at Corrichie, where he died on the field but his mortal enemy was taken to Aberdeen to be executed.

Sir Lachlan Mackintosh succeeded his grandfather as 17th Chief in 1606.  James VI ordered that he be sent to Oxford or Cambridge - in his policy of Anglicizing the Highland Chiefs.  Therefore the clan supported Charles I in the Civil War and rose for the Stewarts in 1715.  By the time of the 45, the 22nd Chief was a Captain in the Black Watch, and remained loyal to his commission.

The 23rd Chief fought for King George III in the battle of Brooklyn, and was taken prisoner.  He left no heir.  Today, the Chief is descended from a Canadian ship-owner.  The late Vice-Admiral Lachlan Mackintosh of Mackintosh (1896 - 1957), 29th Chief, was succeeded by his son, Lieut. Commander Lachlan Mackintosh (born 1928) who lives in the ancestral land of Moy in Inverness-shire.  A relatively happy ending for a feisty Highland clan where so many others ended in ignominy.


The origin of the Davidsons is obscure in the mists of Pict society in the north of Albann.  They are recognized by the Lord Lyon of Scotland as being of definite Pict origin.  Also known as Davis and Davison.

The chiefs of the Davidsons are said to have settled, in early times at Invernahaven, a small estate in Badenoch, at the junction of the Truim with the Spey, and when they emerged into history in the late 14th century, the holders of the name appear to have been of considerable number, indicating a long presence there.

Before Robert the Bruce destroyed the power of the Comyns, they had dominated the great massif of the Grampians and the plains of Buchan and Moray.  As Bruce devastated the vast plantations that supported the Comyns, It was natural that the smaller families there would seek protection under the wing of the old Pict/Celtic tribal system rather than submit to foreign feudal warlords.  So the Davidsons came under the wing of the Clan Chattan Alliance and the MacKintoshes.  The Davidsons did not descend from the MacIntoshes or from any other family within the Clan Chattan.  They were an entirely independent tribe that was led by a man called David Dubh into the fold of the Chattan Alliance.  

However, they did not attain security or prosperity as they became involved in bitter inter-clan rivalries; the most severe being a fierce feud with the Macphersons over rights of precedence.   This led to a bitter battle on the North Inch of Perth in 1396, where the two clans virtually destroyed each other.  Subsequently, the principal scattered branches of the clan were the Davidsons of Cantray and the Davidsons of Tulloch.

In North America, their name lives on in the renowned Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  Donald Davidson was one of the most important American philosophers of the latter half of the twentieth century.  His ideas, presented in a series of essays (and one posthumous monograph) from the 1960s onwards, have had an impact in a range of areas from semantic theory through to epistemology and ethics.  John Davidson (1878–1970), also known as “Botany John,” was a Canadian botanist, educator and conservationist who touched many lives through his teachings and public lectures.  His accomplishments include the creation of the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden, the University of British Columbia Herbarium and the Vancouver Natural History Society.  The Davis Cup is the world renowned championship in Tennis.

Tulloch Castle

Clann HAIG

The first of the name was one Petrus del Hage who is mentioned in documents c.1162, but traditionally they are said to descend from Druskine, King of the Picts of Fortriu, who was killed at the Battle of Camelon by Kenneth MacAlpin, High King of Albann (and a half-Scot) in 839.  His son, Hago escaped to Norway and it was his descendant, Petrus de Hago who served with the Viking forces of King Harold IV of Norway.  Hago was shipwrecked off Eyemouth, befriended the Earl of March who gave him his daughter's hand in marriage and the lands of Bemersyde near Dryburgh Roxburghshire. The Haigs lived on the lands of Bemersyde for many centuries and almost bore out the ancient prophecy of Thomas the Rhymer - "Tyde, Tyde, what'er betide There'll aye be Haigs at Bemersyde." 

In the 17th century the Chief of Haig had twelve daughters before a son but in the 19th century the 25th Laird and his three sisters all died unmarried. The chief made a joint disposition conveying Bemersyde to Arthur Balfour Haig of the Clackmannanshire who was descended from a second son of the 17th Chief.

Also, in the 17th century William Haig was the King's solicitor for Scotland for James VI and Charles I.  In 1921 the peoples of the British Commonwealth purchased the estate of Bemersyde from Balfour Haig and presented it to Field-Marshal Earl Haig in recognition of his services during the First World War.  Alexander Haig who resigned from the Nixon administration is of the American branch of the family. The present Chief, a distinguished painter is the son of the Field-Marshal and succeeded to the title in 1928.

Clann HAGGART (MacTaggart)

The ancestors of the Haggart and MacTaggart families were among the southern Pictish people of Albann. The name was derived from the Gaelic, Mac-an-t-sagairt, which means son of the Priest. The Haggarts originally came from Perthshire (Fortriu).   In the ancient Celtic church,  clerics were allowed to marry before the enforcement of Roman Catholic rules in the 12th century.  Over the years, the name has been spelled Hagard, Haggar, Haggard, Hagart, Hagar and many more.

With the advent of the Norman and Saxon feudal system throughout Scotland, many of the old race found it advantageous to leave a country their ancestors had settled eight thousand years earlier.  The Albann they knew was gone, and Scotland told them they were no longer welcome.  Immigration and passenger lists have shown many immigrants to Australia and North America bore the name Haggart.

The Haggart Observatory is a public Astronomical Observatory in Oregon City, Oregon. HAGGART, John Graham, mill owner, politician, and militia officer; b. 14 Nov. 1836 in Perth, Upper Canada, son of John Haggart and Isabella Graham.  Robert Sherwood Haggart (American musician), American jazz bassist, arranger, and bandleader.  Dr. Jim Haggart is a Research Scientist specializing in Mesozoic stratigraphy and paleontology.  Rob Haggart, the former Director of Photography for Men's Journal.  Ted Arthur Haggard (born June 27, 1956) is a former American evangelical
preacher, known as Pastor Ted to the congregations he served.  Merle Haggard is a famous American country singer.

The MacTaggart branch of the family were dependants of the Ross clann.  A notable figure was Ferchar Mackinsagart, the son of the red priest of Applecross, who was rewarded with a knighthood by Alexander II, after suppressing a rebellion in Moray.  In more recent times, the MacTaggarts were a distinguished family of artists.  Sir William MacTaggart was the President of the Royal Scottish Academy, and was made a Chevalier of the Legion d'honneur in France in 1968.


Tomaidh Mohr (or Big Thomas in English), who gave this clan its name, was descended from a grandson of William MacKintosh, 8th Chief of Clan Chattan.  Tomaidh and his kinsmen formed a new settlement at Glen Shee, in Perthshire. The clan centre was Thom, on the East Bank of Sheerwater, but this changed in 1600, when Robert MacComie, the 4th Chief, was murdered.  His brother, John MacComie, the 7th Chief, resented tax collectors.  He once hired an Italian assassin to deal with them, but the next taxman proved the better swordsman, and killed the Italian.

The clan played a prominent role in the Civil War.  Initially, John MacComie, 7th Chief, supported the Royalists, fighting alongside the MacKintoshes in 1644.  Later, he switched allegiance, and the family suffered badly after the Restoration.   By the end of the century, the clan was drifting apart, with some members moving to Angus and Fife.  Here they were known as Thom, Thomas, or Thompson.  


The Fergusson clan was Celtic in origin, and was well established in Perthshire, Aberdeenshire, Ayrshire, Dumfriesshire, Fife and Argyllshire.  The Fergussons of Perthshire were recognized as the senior branch although the Fergussons of Craigdarroch, can trace their ancestry back to Fergus, a 12th century Prince of Galloway, and have held their ancestral lands since the 15th century.

Adam Fergusson was Chaplain to the 42nd Regiment (the Black Watch) and was present at the Battle of Fontenoy.  During the American Revolution, in 1778, he was sent across the Atlantic to attempt to make terms with the rebellious colonists.  He lived to become the close friend of Sir Walter Scott.

Robert Fergusson, in contrast, died in 1774 at the age of 23, on a bed of straw with his ears filled with the shrieks of the insane.   Robert Burns sought out his burial place, unearthed him, and embraced his head.  He then gained permission to erect a monument above it.  For in his short life, Fergusson had composed poetry which ranks with that of Burns himself.

The present Chief is Charles Fergusson of Kilkerran, whose uncle, Sir Bernard Fergusson, was the outstanding guerilla leader of the 'Chindits' in the Far East during the 2nd World War.  He became Governor General of New Zealand, knighted, and took the title of Baron Ballantrae of Auchairan.


Clann LABHRAN (of Perthshire)

Clann Labhran, claims their descent from Lawrence of Strathearn, a 13th century Abbot of Achtow, in Balquhidder,  in Perthshire.  They also chose the familiar blue-green based tartan that many other Pict descended clans chose.  It is well known that blue and green were the favourite colours of the Picts in their body painting rituals.  Some traditions linger on regardless.

During the 15th century, one of the Stewart Lords of Lorne married a daughter of MacLaren of Ardveche, and their son, Douglas, was the progenitor of the Stewarts of Appin.  They were overrun twice by the landless MacGregors, in 1542 and in 1558, and were described as a broken clan.  The MacGregors showed as much concern for those they encountered as the Campbells had shown them.  By the time of the thirty years war, they were enlisting in the Swedish army in which MacKay's regiment fought. 

 MacLarens were emigrating to fight as mercenaries in France and Italy by the end of the 15th century.  The insecurity caused by the policy of successive Stewart sovereigns, and the actions of their Campbell and Gordon lieutenants were especially severe in the area in which the MacLarens lived.  The clan was at Culloden, where Donald MacLaren was taken prisoner by the English.  He made a dramatic escape, and was eulogized by Sir Walter E, Scott in 'Red Gauntlet'.

Lord Dreghorn, son of Professor Colin MacLaurin, established his claim in 1781 to the chieftship of clan MacLaren.  The rallying cry of the clan is 'Creag an Tuirc' (Boar's rock).  This rock still stands near Achtow and Achleskine in Balquhidder.


This name refers to 'Son of Columba', the most revered Christian missionary, who converted King Brud in about 564 AD, and is credited with being responsible for the conversion of the entire Albann empire to Christianity.

He is revered by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Lutheran Church and the Anglican Church as a saint.A representation of Saint Columba preachng to King Brude.  For more information on Saint Columba, click here.

The MacColls were long associated with the area around Loch Fyne from very early times.  Their early history is 'sketchy', as is often the case with Pict-descended clans.  Being a relatively small group, they forged protective relationships with first the MacDonalds, then with the MacGregors, and may even have been full members of the Clan Gregor.

This arrangement was not unique, as each Glen (or valley) controlled (or protected) by Clan Gregor kept their own names, which became associated with those particular geographical areas.  i.e. the MacNeishes and Fletchers were associated with GlenOrchy.

In 1602, the MacPhersons ambushed a MacGregor raiding party at Drum Nachder, while returning home.  The results were disastrous for the MacColls, as they lost most of their men and their chief.  The next year, in 1603, the MacGregors were proscribed, leaving the MacColl group without a protector.

This near extinction forced them into a close protective relationship with the Stewarts of Appin, who had grabbed Glen Lyon from another MacGregor sept, the MacIvers and MacIvors.

They sustained further losses during the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, when they fought again for the Stewarts of Appin, and lost 18 killed and 15 wounded.

More recently, the name has acquired artistic associations.  Evan MacColl (1808 - 1898) was a noted Gaelic poet and author.  Ewan MacColl (1915 - 1989) made his mark as a folk-singer.


Similar to the Calvinist ministry, the Celtic forms of religious organization planted in Albann a thousand years earlier  preserved the hereditary principle long after the (apparent) celibacy of the priesthood ought to have put an end to it.  Hence the name Macpherson (son of the parson).  However, this great Badenoch clan, which for so long contested the primacy of the great Clan Chattan Confederacy, claims descent from the hereditary parsons of Kingussie, one of which  was described as Duncan Parson in 1438, and his descendants as Macphersons. 

The exact nature of the descent they shared with the Mackintoshes from Gille Chattan is uncertain as the belief of the two oldest Macpherson houses of Pitmean and Invereshie was that Duncan Parson had been a Mackintosh.  This controversy  was a continuous source of conflict.  External threats from the Comyns, then the Stewarts, and then Gordons weakened them to the point that their Chief, Bean MacPherson, finally signed a bond of fealty to Duncan Mackintosh in 1490.

The Gordons of Huntly fed the flames of discontent by backing the Macpherson claim to sovereignty of the Clan Chattan in an attempt to set them against each other and destroy them both.  The conflict flared until 1672, when Andrew Macpherson of Cluny led the Clan Chattan men in the army of Montrose.

In 1672, the Privy Council pronounced Mackintosh was 'the only and true representer of the ancient and honourable family of the Clan Chattan'.  Despite the harsh treatment the clan had received from the Stewarts, they rallied to the Jacobite cause, and suffered the triumphs and tribulations of the Stewarts' final defeat at Culloden.

Ewen MacPherson of Cluny became Chief in 1746, and was one of the most spectacular clan leaders to support Prince Charles Edward.  After the '45, the house of Cluny had been burnt to the ground and he estates forfeited.  Ewen lived n hiding for nine years and finally managed to escape to France in 1755 despite a huge reward offered for his head.   The estates were restored to his son in 1784, and the mansion at Cluny was rebuilt.

Lieut. Colonel William MacPherson of Cluny and Blairgowrie succeeded his father, Brigadier Alan MacPherson, as the clan Chief in 1969.


The Kilgours have a very strong association with the district of Fife, in the north of Scotland.  They took their name from the lands of Kilgour, near Falkland, and were followers of the MacDuffs, the Pict Earls of Fife.

Before it became a royal palace, Falkland was a MacDuff stronghold and it is probably no accident the earliest reference to a Kilgour relates to this place.  In 1528, Sir Thomas Kilgour was cited as chaplain of St. Thomas at Falkland.  Many Kilgours emigrated to northern Australia, where there is a river bearing that name.   


The name of Lennox is attached to a powerful earldom, controlling vast tracts of Dumbartonshire, Renfrewshire, and Stirlingshire.  It evolved from an ancient southern Pict title, the Mormaer of 'Llevennahh' ('Llyfn-afon' in modern Welsh), ('Levenach' in Gaelic) meaning smooth river, and was firmly established by the 13th century.  Malcom of Lennox, the 5th Earl, was recorded as attending Robert II's coronation in 1371.

After 1488,  the title became associated with the Stewarts, particularly the Darnleys.  Henry, Lord Darnley - the short-lived husband of Mary, Queen of Scots - was the son of the 4th Earl of Lennox.  Esmé Stuart was created Duke of Lennox in 1579, becoming High Chamberlain of Scotland two years later.



In search of Alpin:

Alpin or Alpine, in any of its forms,  was, and remains, strictly an ancient P-Celtic word; i.e. Alps.  Alpin was a common Pict name which meant 'mountainous'.  It has never been in the Irish or Scottish Gaelic (Q-Celtic) vocabularies in any form whatsoever.  There were at least four Alpins who sought the Kingship of the Picts in the 8th and 9th century AD.  They were all Picts, as in the age of the Alpins, there was a great deal of intermarriage between the Picts, Scots, Britons and Irish Cruithne, especially amongst the upper echelons of society.  More emphasis was put on the maternal side when considering succession; by Britons, Picts and Irish Cruithne, but not the Scots.

    1/   Alpin, son of King Nehhtonn, was never king, and was slain in battle in 693 AD.
    2/   Alpin, son of  Eachaidh, ruled over the Picts (726 - 728), and was expelled from Albann by Onnust in   729 AD.  In the great battle of Catoc followed wherein the Dalriadic Scots and the Britons of Strathclyde against Onnust  and Eadbert, King of Mercia.   Onnust and Eadbert won, and Alpin was slain about 750 AD.
    3/  Alpin, son of Uuroid, (pronounced Feroid) ruled Albann (775 - 780 AD).  He had only one daughter, who married a Scotic king named Eoacha-Anguibh; in Latin, Achaius-Venenosi; in English, Hugh the Poisonous, and named her first born child after her father.

The learned historian, Boece, wrote that Charlemagne, ruler of most of Europe, entered into a league with Hugh to supply the Empire with learned men to teach at European universities.  In actual fact, Hugh did not rule over Dalriada, he was barely holding on to Kintyre, his presence there only tolerated by Donald MacConstantine, the Pict Lieutenant Governor of Dalriada.  In fact, Charlemagne never heard of Hugh the Poisonous.  So much for certain exaggeration!
    4/  Alpin, son of Hugh the Poisonous, ruled in Dalriada from 834 to 837 under the sufferance of the Albann government.  He then made an attempt to rule over Albann, which by Pict law he was entitled to do, as his mother was a Pict Princess.
He chose a very opportune time for his own interest but a very poor time in the minds and hearts of his potential Pict subjects.  It was inexcusable; Easter Day of 837 AD.  The Pict forces had just suffered a devastating defeat at the hands of the heathen Vikings.  Onnisst's son, Drust, was trying to gather his forces when they were attacked.  In that Autumn, the Picts obliterated the Scottish army.  Alpin MacEoacha was never a King of Albann, as he was executed in 836 by King Drust.  The ceremony of retribution was one reserved for traitors, a public beheading.

Clan Alpine was the first name of Clan Gregor, before the delegates at a Clan Alpine Council, took a solemn oath to resist the predations of the Campbells by swearing allegiance to the then Chief, Gregor of GlenOrchy (1300 - 1360), and by solidifying their dedication by changing their surnames to his namesake, King Grig, (Gregor in English).

Despite the nonsense written in several Scottish literary documents about a separate Clan Alpin (or Alpine), none existed whatsoever distinct from Clan Gregor, other than what is listed herein.  Several ranking MacGregors and Grants changed their surnames back to the ancient  'MacAlpine' in a solidifying act of protest, after the failure of their two clans to reunite at the failed conference of unity at Blair Atholl in 1725.

Again, the dominate colours in this tartan are the Pict favorites, green and blue.


This clan lived on the island of Colonsay, in the Inner Hebrides.  The oldest form of the name was MacDuffie, which appears on a charter of 1463.  It is also written as MacPhee.  In 1609, Donald MacFie of Colonsay joined the council which drew up the Statutes of Iona, a policy statement for improving life in the Western Isles.

In 1615, Malcom MacFie joined in the disastrous rebellion of Sir James MacDonald of Islay.  Many of the clan were killed, and the island passed to the MacDonalds of Clan Ranald.  In later years, the most notorious clansman was Ewen Macphee, a 19th century deserter and outlaw.


Hailing from the ancient region of Galloway in south-west Scotland, this clan has deep Pict roots.  Galloway is contained by sea to the west and south, the Galloway Hills to the north, and the River Nith to the east; the border between Kirkcudbright and Wigtownshire is marked by the River Cree.

Early records confirm their opposition to Robert the Bruce.  Gradually, the family increased its standing, erecting Sorbie Tower in 1550 on their lands.  This remained their ancestral set until the clan was outlawed in the 17th century, following a disastrous feud with the Murrays. 

At this time, many Hannays fled to Ulster, where the name is still very common.  In later years, the Hannays of Kirkdale became the principle branch of the family. 


The first chief of the Clan Lamont was Ferchar ('a friend of the trees' in Welsh), who flourished about 1200 AD.  A grandson,  Laumun, was the first to use the name which has since become hereditary.  This P-Celtic name strongly resembles the unique Breton name, 'Laouenan,' which means 'a happy person' in English.  About 1238, Duncan, son of Ferchar, and Laumun, son of Malcom (another son of Ferchar), granted certain lands at Kilmun to the monks at Paisley.

About 1446, the Lamont country was ravaged by the Campbells, who carried off about 200 prisoners to Dunoon after promising them safe passage, then massacred them, men women and children.  A memorial to commemorate the event was erected by the Clan Lamont Society in 1906.  This horrific tragedy broke the clan, and they became a sept of the Campbells of GlenOrchy.

The clan was confined to Cowal for about 90 years, but in 1539, Sir John Lamont of Inveryne acquired the barony of Inveryne.  He took up residence at Toward Castle where he was visited by Mary, Queen of Scots in 1563.  Until the 17th century, the chiefs used the barony title of 'Inveryne,' with Toward Castle for part of that time as principal residence.  In 1646, Ardlamont became the seat of the chief, and so remained until its sale in the 19th century.

In the 18th century, the chiefship passed through Margaret, daughter and heiress of Dugald Lamont of Lamont, to the heir of line, her son, Archibald Lamont of Lamont, who was awarded the chief arms as heir of line and was also awarded supporters by the Lord Lyon in 1909.  On his death, the chiefship passed to the Monydrain branch, of whom Ronald Coll Lamont of Lamont (24th Chief) died in Australia in 1951.

The chiefship of the clan was confirmed in 1953 by the Lord Lyon King of Arms to be Alfred Grenville Lamont, who resides in Australia.  The Clan Lamont headquarters is in Glasgow, Scotland.


The MacFarlanes claim descent from the Earls of Lennox, citing Gilchrist, the younger brother of Malduin, both sons of Alwyn, the 3rd Earl, as their ancestor.    The clan was famous for its warlike behaviour.  Gilchrist's grandson was one of the Gaelic supporters of Robert the Bruce, and father of Parlan (a P-Celtic name).  Its Gaelic form was 'Farlan' , hence MacFarlane.

Iain MacPharlain, the 7th Chief, to descend from Gilchrist, received a confirmation of his title to Arrochar in 1420, and Earl Duncan of Lennox was beheaded by James I in a particularly revolting way, the House of MacFarlane became the senior male representatives of he ancient Earldom of Lennox, although this was later taken by the Stewarts.

The MacFarlanes remained loyal to the Stewarts, and in particular to their Lennox branch.  Sir Iain, the 11th Chief fell in the Lennox contingent at Flodden in 1513, leaving  as his heir, Andrew.   Duncan, the 13th Chief, fell fighting the English at Pinkie in 1547, during the short reign of Mary.  His men had been described as being at the head of the Lennox, that spoke Gaelic and Scottish.

After the death of Mary's husband, King Henry (Lord Darnley), his father, the Earl of Lennox sided with Mary's enemies.  The 14th Chief of he  MacFarlanes took a contingent of troops to Loch Leven castle which tipped the scales against her.  Sadly, the MacFarlanes were notorious for feuds with the Colquhouns and the Buchanans.  As a result, the MacFarlane name and lands were forfeited in 1642, and its clan members were dispersed (similar to the MacGregors).

However, the clan returned to its Royal loyalties when the 16th Chief fought under Montrose for Charles I.  His island stronghold of Inveruglas in Loch Lomond was destroyed by the Roundheads when Cromwell invaded Scotland.  Thereafter, the seat of the MacFarlanes became the house of Arrochar by Loch Long.

The 20th Chief set a remarkable example. Walter MacFarlane devoted his entire life to research into the history of his country, and  the preservation and transcribing of its documents.  His accurate and thorough collections have proven to be invaluable.  Soon after this excellent Chief's death in 1767 without heirs, his brother sold Arrochar.  The direct male line of chiefs expired with the death of William, the 25th Chief, in 1886, without issue.


This clan is one of the most ancient of Highland clans, proud of their reputation of being fiercer than fierceness itself.  Sir Iain Moncreiffe, official Cameron clan historian, has traced their origins back to the kingdom of Fife and the Royal line of Macduff.  Certainly, theirs is a Fife-place name, Cam brun, Gaelic for Crooked Hill.   Moncreiffe noted the persistence of the letter B when the name appears in medieval documents, verifying cambrun is the correct originating name.  He also pointed out the similar heraldry of the Camerons and the Earls of Fife.

A charter in favour of a brother of the Earl of Fife was witnessed by Adam of Kamerum in the 13th century.  In the same era, Robert of Cambrun was granted the lands of Ballegarno by William the Lion.  It was not until 1296 that Sir Robert Cambron appeared in the office of Sheriff of Atholl in the neighbourhood of Lochaber.  It was probably he who owned Ballegarno Castle when Edward I occupied it in that year. 

In 1320, Sir John of Cambrun was among the signatories of the Declaration of Arbroath.  By 1388, Ballegarno and its properties had passed with heiresses to other families.  However, before the century ended, the Camerons had become established in Lochaber. 

The 11th Cameron Chief married an heiress of Letterfinlay and left two sons; Allan and Ewen.  Ewen, the 13th Chief adopted the title of Locheil when his estates were erected into a barony of that name in 1528.  

The name of Cameron was bestowed, through the fanaticism of one man, on an object that may appear somewhat surprising, considering that it is generally a Highland and a Catholic name.  But a certain Richard Cameron, son of a small shop-keeper in Fife, was converted by the extreme Calvinists while he was a school-master and an Episcopalian.  This was a time when the Covenanters had lost political power in Scotland, and were being treated with rather mild form of intolerance compared to how they had bludgeoned the country during their supremacy.

Cameron joined the exiled Calvinist ministers in Holland, but returned in 1680 to indulge in field-preaching.  In July, he was surprised by a body of horse in the moors between Nithsdale and Ayrshire, and urged his followers to fight it out.  Richard Cameron himself was among the slain, and so did not live to see the Calvinist triumph of 1688.  However, the Covenantist regiment that was raised then in support of William of Orange was named the Cameronian regiment in his memory.

Author's note: My connection with this is that my great-great grandfather, John MacGregor (1824 - 1899), of Kinross-shire, joined the 26th Cameronian Regiment at Perth on 21st April of 1845, and made it his military career.  He retired near Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1869.

The clan's best known figure was Sir Ewen Cameron of Locheil, 17th Chief, who was born in 1629.  He was orphaned at an early age and was raised by the Marquis of Argyll, who tried to instill the principles of the Covenanters in him.  Ewen was more inspired in the exploits of Montrose, and after witnessing his execution in Edinburgh in 1650, he became a determined Royalist.  In 1652, he joined the Earl of Glencairn, who took part in a series of skirmishes against the English.

In particular, he harried the forces of Generals Monck and Morgan, who were trying to enforce parliament's rule in the area.  Soon, his deeds acquired a legendary aura.  Ewen was eventually compelled to submit but his reputation won him favourable terms.  He did not have to make a personal oath of allegiance to Cromwell, he was granted compensation for the damage done to his property at Locheil, and his men were granted immunity from prosecution.

After the Restoration, Ewen was received in London by Charles II, and was knighted in 1680.  In 1689, he took the field at Killiecrankie.  He was now 60 years of age, and had been offered both money and a title for his neutrality.  He also gave his full support to the 1715 rebellion but his time, the clan was led by his son.  Ewen died four years later at the age of ninety.

Ewen's grandson, Donald, became known as the 'gentle Locheil'.  He had the misfortune to become Chief during the 1745 uprising.  After Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in Scotland, Locheil met with him and urged him to return to France to await a time when he had more support.  The Prince refused, and uttered his famous reply; 'If Locheil did not wish to join him, he could stay at home and read about his fate in the newspapers'.  Reluctantly, Locheil gave way and joined the rebellion.

It proved to be a disastrous decision.  He was wounded at Culloden, and forced to flee to France, where he died in 1748.  In his absence, all Cameron lands were forfeited. and their houses were burned to the ground.



The very ancient clan Robertson claims descent from the royal house of Dunkeld, the Celtic Mormaers of Atholl.  The clan's earliest known ancestor was Conan of Glenerochie, a son of Henry, hereditary Earl of Atholl.  Donnachaidh (Duncan) Reamhar, who fought with Bruce at Bannockburn, had a son, Robert Riach, who gave his name to the family.  Duncan was captured by the English at the battle of Neville's Cross in 1346.  He married twice, acquiring considerable property on each occasion.  This included the lands of Rannoch, which would later become the seat of the clan.

The standing of the clan increased considerably during the chieftship of Robert, when he apprehended the two murderers of King James I, and delivered them to the authorities for punishment in 1437.  His reward was the Barony of Struan in Perthshire.  The clan remained loyal to the crown despite the fact that the Stewarts' greed stripped them of half their lands of Struan.

They fought under Montrose for Charles I, and Alasdair the 17th of Struan supported Bonnie Dundee in the cause of James VII.  Alasdair was forfeited but pardoned after Queen Anne succeeded to the throne.  When he House of Hanover came to power, he took up arms again, both  in 1715 and 1745.

Although the chiefs were dispossessed, they lived on by Loch Rannoch until the last of their estates were sold in the 20th century.  The present chief lives in Kingston, Jamaica.


The MacInroys are a sept of the Clann Donnchaidh (or Robertsons), and as such, also claim descent from the royal house of Dunkeld, the Celtic Mormaers of Atholl.  Their name comes from the Gaelic Mac Ian Ruaidh (Son of John Roy).  In 1613, John Dow McInriache of Tomachlagnanr was fined for harbouring members of the outlawed Clan Gregor.


The original name was Sgian, Gaelic for knife.  The Skene clan comprised several families, including Dyce, Halyard, Cariston, Curriehill and Rubislaw.  The Robertsons of Atholl were the Skenes' ancestors when the clan name was Clann Donnchaidh.

In the 11th century, a son of Robertson of Straun rescued the Scots king from an attack by a wolf by killing it with his knife.  As a reward, the king gave him lands in Aberdeenshire that were renamed Skene.  If that story is true, Robert was lucky the local Picts didn't stick him with the knife rather than the wolf.   MacBeth had been the last Celtic ruler, and the Anglo/Norman rulers were bent on erasing the power base of the Picts in the north.

In 1318, King Robert Bruce made Skene into a Barony.   The coat of arms of  the Skenes shows three wolves' heads impaled on knives such as the one said to have saved the king's life (The Robertson's arms contain three wolves heads without the knives).

The Skenes made many sacrifices for king and country: their chiefs died in battle at Harlaw in 1411, Flodden in 1513, and at Pinkie in 1547.  James Skene of Skene was a renowned soldier, fighting for Sweden's King Gustavus Adolphus, and also for Charles I, in the 17th century civil war.

The most outstanding literary figure of this name was William Forbes Skene, appointed Historiographer Royal for Scotland in 1881.


The most extraordinary aspect of the MacMillans' history was their nomadic existence.  Few Scots families could have occupied such varied and widely distanced regions of the country.  Their ancestry can be traced back to the Siol O'Cain, an ancient Pict tribe of Moray.  

The surname is derived from MacMhaoil-Iain, and it means 'Son of the Tonsured One'.   More precisely, the suffix, Iain, indicates the Celtic tonsure of St. John, rather than the Roman version.   An Gillemaol, the Tonsured Servant, was living in 1132, when his name was listed as a witness in the Book of Deer, the oldest Scots religious record.  At that time, he was connected with a monastic community at Old Spynie, near Elgin.

Shortly afterwards, David I overthrew the Mormaer of Moray - the old established Pict jurisdiction - and settled the area with Norman feudal families.  So the Tonsured Servant and his kin wee transplanted from Old Spynie to Loch Arkaig in Lochaber, where they became known as 'Clann Illemhaoil Abrach' (Clan MacMillan of Lochaber).

The Tonsured Servant had a son, Malcolm, who was mentioned in a document of 1150.  Ten years later, the MacMillans set out on their travels again when King Malcolm IV transplanted them from Loch Arkaig to Crown Lands on Loch Tay in Perthshire.  

Here they settled at Lawers, where they remained for two centuries.  In 1306, Maolmuire MacMillan, great grandson of Malcom, sheltered the fugitive Bruce at Lawers.   About 1360, the clan was moved once more: Maolmuire's son, Malcom Mór,  was driven from Lawers by 'letters of fire and sword' on the orders of David II.

In this crisis, Clan MacMillan split up, Malcom Mor and the chiefly line moved to Knapdale, and became vassals of the Lord of the Isles.   MacMillan's charter was engraved on a boulder standing at the Point of Knap which read:

 'MacMillan's right to Knap shall be
As long as this rock withstands the sea.'

The rock was destroyed by Campbell of Calder in 1615.  Malcom Mór's grandson, Lachlan,  was killed fighting for the Lord of the Isles at Harlow in 1411.  His son, Lachlan Og, took part in the unsuccessful Douglas rebellion of 1455, but recouped his losses by marrying his son, Alexander, to a MacNeil heiress, who brought him Castle Sween.

Alexander lost castle Sween in 1481, when James IV conferred it on the Campbell Earl of Argyll, drastically reducing the MacMillan lands.   Yet, Alexander left a striking memorial to his departed glory in MacMillan's Cross, a magnificent monument over 12 feet high, which stands beside the ruined chapel at Kilmory-Knap, bearing the inscription 'Haec est crux Alexandri Mac Mulen' (This is the cross of Alexander MacMillan).

His descendants retained only a small part of land at Tiretigan.  Even so, they were still harassed by the Campbells who had supplanted them.  Not surprisingly, Alexander's great-great-grandson, Malcolm MacMillan, supported the Macdonalds of Kintyre in their struggle against Campbell domination, with fatal consequences.

In September of 1615, Argyll ordered Sir John Campbell of Calder to annihilate the chiefly family.  Only one of  Malcom's sons, Murachie, escaped the slaughter, and passed on Tiretigan to his own son, known as MacMurachie.  After killing a man who had tried to seduce his wife, MacMurachie fled overseas in 1655, and his hereditary enemies became the benefactors.

Campbell of Lagg obtained a charter of his lands.  At home, the Chieftship went to his cousin, Archibald MacMillan of Dunsmore, who died in 1676.  His son was coerced into joining Argyll's rebellion against James VII in 1685, and died in prison.

In 1951, the Lord Lyon recognized General Sir Gordon MacMillan of Macmillan, as the clan Chief.  Hugh MacMillan was one of the 'seven' Men of Glen Moriston who guarded Prince Charlie.  The Chiefs of the Lochaber line emigrated to Canada in the early 19th century.

There were many outstanding MacMillans in history:  Harold MacMillan was Prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1957 to 1963.  A Dumfries-shire blacksmith named Kirkpatrick MacMillan invented the bicycle.

Author's note:  It astounds me that some Scottish historians would ever think of pretending this great family was actually of Dalriadic Scot descent.  The horrific story of their many forced transplantations (through no fault of their own) is reminiscent of the similar fates meted out to many 'aboriginal' peoples in America, proving once and for all this clan's 'aboriginal' Pict roots.      Hal MacGregor


Báicéir is an archaic Irish word for Baker, and Baker is found throughout Scotland.  However, the greatest concentration is in Fife and in the west. In the west, the Baxters were generally regarded as dependents of the MacMillans.  However, in Fife a separate branch had gained prominence by the 1200s.

Reginald Baxter witnessed a document relating to Wemyss church in 1220AD.   Jeffrey Baxter of Lissithe gave an oath of fealty in 1296.  The principal family in the area, however was the Baxters of Earlshall, who resided in a fine baronial mansion near Leuchars.



By tradition the Napiers are said to be descended from Celtic royalty through the ancient Earls of Lennox.  The traditional source of he name was when Donald performed an act of heroism on the battlefield.  His king congratulated him, saying that he had 'nae peer', and the name stuck.

Before 1300, John Napier was granted lands at Kilmahew in Dumbartonshire which the family retained for over 500 years. He later took part in the defence of Stirling Castle (1303).  William Napier was Governor of Edinburgh Castle (1401).  Alexander Napier became Provost of he city in 1437 and acquired the lands of Merchiston, which became the family's Edinburgh seat.  His mot famous descendent was John Napier, 8th Laird of Merchiston, (1550 - 1617) the inventor of logarithms.


The Clan is named after the ruins of the Pict 'rath-tref', or fort dwelling, in Perthshire which was traditionally connected with ancient religious rites, and appear from their arms to have been a branch of the original House of Mar early in the twelfth century. The Rattrays were influential in the 14th century, and were among the Barons who decided the succession to the throne in 1315.

According to tradition, the Rattrays acquired their land from King Malcolm Canmore in the 11th century but the first record of the name is Sir Thomas of Rattray, who was knighted by Alexander III.  He married the heiress, Christian of Aberbothric in 1253, and paid homage to Edward I in 1296. Sir John Rattray of Rattray was knighted by James IV and by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of James 2nd, Lord Kennedy, he had three sons and a daughter.

Sylvester, the third son inherited the title after his two elder brothers, John and Patrick, and the daughter married John Stewart, Earl of Atholl. The Earl laid claim to a portion of the Rattray estates and forcibly took Rattray Castle, and carried off Sir John's two grand-daughters whom he adopted as his "wards".   He arranged for the eldest to marry his son claiming half the Rattray lands as his dowry, and forced the other daughter to hand over the other half of the lands.

Patrick, the 2nd son, then moved to the Castle of Craighall farther up Glen Ericht, which is perched on a 200 feet rock above the River Ericht.  Patrick evaded the Atholl men until 1533, but was killed as he took refuge in the Kinballoch Chapel.  The Earl of Atholl's niece, Mary Stewart, wife of Kininmonth, fell in love with Sylvester, the third brother, and after Kininmonth's death, she married Sylvester, and persuaded the Earl of Atholl to stop pressuring the Rattrays. 

Since then, the Rattrays have lived at Craighall at the spot where Patrick built the first castle.  At the Restoration, Craighall was remodeled by another Patrick Rattray, and the lands were consolidated into one free Barony under "Craighall-Rattray" (1648) in a Charter from Charles II.  The lands of Rattray were also returned by the Earl of Atholl.

In 1745, the Chief of Rattray declined to join the Jacobites, and sent a donation of £50 instead.  However his brother, John, was a physician to Bonnie Prince Charlie.  In 1799, the line of male succession died out however, the lands and arms of Rattray passed to James Clerk through his grandmother, and he assumed the name of Rattray.  He was an eminent advocate and a friend of Sir Walter Scott, who modeled "Tully-Veolan" the Baron of Bradwardine's castle in "Waverley" on Craighall.

The Rattrays are called after the barony of that name in northwest Perth-shire. They played an important role in the history of the district, and in the sixteenth century had a feud with the Stewart earls of Atholl, who were jealous of the Rattray lands in Atholl, which they had inherited from a Stewart heiress. The Earl of Atholl kidnapped the Rat-tray heiress from Rattray Castle and forced her to marry the third Earl of Atholl. The Rattrays then retired farther up Glen Ericht and built the castle of Craighall-Rattray on a strong promontory above the river Ericht. Rattray itself was recovered in the seventeenth century.


This is one of many Scottish surnames with an ecclesiastical background.  It means servant of Jesus (Gille Iosa), which confirms that the ancestor was probably a Pict monk or a church official.  

The family were followers of the MacPhersons, and the name was most common in Badenoch and the Hebrides.  In 1128, a member of the Gillise family witnessed a charter granted by David I to Holyrood Abbey.  Some years later, a son of Gillise witnessed another charter, relating to the Abbey of Scone (1164).  More recently, Sir William Gillies (1898 - 1973) held the post of President of the Royal Scottish Academy.


The family that first adopted the name of Dunbar was one of the great Celtic houses that continued to flourish throughout the centuries of Normanization by being powerful and loyal to the winners.   It descended from Duncan, the lay-abbot who was killed in 965.  His grandson was Crinan the Lord of Dunkeld, father of King Duncan I, who was murdered by MacBeth in 1040.  Other involvements with Scotland's kings were no less dramatic.

By the reign of Malcom Canmore, its representative was Cospatrick, Earl of Northumberland, to whom the king granted the lands and Earldom of Dunbar, whose sear-girt stronghold was to witness so many dramas in Scotland's history.  It was Patrick, the 10th Earl, who received Edward II of England into Dunbar Castle after his flight from Bannockburn, and enabled him to return to his own kingdom.

If he had detained Edward, the English might have been compelled to recognize King Robert and make peace, saving both countries from more years of bloodshed.  However, Patrick came to terms with Robert the Bruce soon after, and was one of the signatories of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320.

When Edward Balliol returned as the rightful king in 1333 during the reign of Bruce's son, David II, Patrick supported him briefly - until he found Balliol was a puppet for the English.  Then Patrick turned his allegiance back to David.  The English brought an army to occupy Dunbar Castle during his absence in 1337, but his Countess, Black Agnes, held the fortress until a relieving force succeeded in reaching her by sea.  A ballad preserves the exasperation of the English commander:

She kept a stir in tower and trench
That brawling boisterous Scottish wench,
Came I early, came I late,
I found Agnes at the gate.

The 11th Earl was one of the victims of the greed of James I.  Using the time-honoured method of stealing property, Dunbar was falsely accused of treason, and the estates were forfeited.  After nearly four hundred years as an independent  Celtic estate, the property was annexed to the crown, and the last Earl, Sir George Dunbar of Kilconquhar, died in 1455.  But by this time, his house had established its branches of Morchrum in Moray and Westfield in Wigtownshire, and moved into the earldom and bishopric of Moray.  The estates of Dunbar were never recovered.

Sir George's grandson was Columba Dunbar (1370 - 14350, Bishop of Moray, whose effigy is still to be seen in the ruins of Elgin Cathedral.  By the mid-15th century, Dunbars of the Westfield line were established as far north as Caithness.

Several Dunbars made memorable contributions to the Renaissance when it reached Scotland.  Gavin, Bishop of Aberdeen 1455 - 1532) was the 4th son of Sir Alexander Dunbar of Westfield.  By 1503, he was a member of the Privy Council of James IV, and in 1518, he was appointed Bishop.  He beautified the cathedral of St. Macher, where his marble effigy was smashed during the Reformation.

Bishop Gavin had a nephew of the same name, 3rd son of Sir John Dunbar of Mochrum.  Through his uncle's influence, he followed him in the Deanery of Moray, and became tutor to the young King James V after his father's death on the field of Flodden.  In 1524, he was made Archbishop of Glasgow, then Lord Chancellor, and died in 1547.

Clann HOME

Patrick, 2nd son of Cospatrick, Earl of Dunbar, was the traditional founder of this family.  Therefore Clan Home was a cadet of Clan Dunbar.  Aldan of Home, who derived his name from the estates of Home in Berwickshire, is the first recorded ancestor.  One of the greatest of the Border clans, the Homes took their name from lands in Berwickshire.  Its literal meaning is 'cave', from the Pict/Gaelic uamb.

His descendant, Sir Thomas Home, married the heiress of Douglas, and had two sons, Sir Alexander and David Home of Wedderburn, ancestor of he Earl of Marchmont.  Sir Alexander, a distinguished soldier, fought as an ally with the Earl of Douglas at Homildon in 1424, and fell with him at the great battle of Verneuil in 1424.

He had three sons, from the youngest came Sir Home of Spott, and from the second came the Homes of Tyninghame and Ninewells.  Sir Alexander, the eldest son, carried on the family, and his son, Sir Alexander Home, was created Lord Home in 1473, and died in 1491.  His eldest son, Alexander, died in his father's lifetime, but left two sons, Alexander, 2nd Lord Home, and John Home of Whiterigs and Ersilton.  The 2nd Lord Home led the vanguard of the army that defeated James III at Sauchieburn, and he was much in favour or James IV.

Alexander, 3rd Lord, was the Great Chamberlain of Scotland and Warden of the Marches.  He survived Flodden, and was executed with his brother by the Regent Albany in 1516.  His grandson, Alexander 5th Lord, had supported the marriage of Queen Mary with Bothwell but later was one of the nobles who imprisoned her in Lochleven.

Another brother, George Home, recovered the family estates, but he was killed before the battle of Pinkie in 1547, and the Home estates were seized again, this time by the English.  Alexander, the 5th Lord Home, recovered the estates two years later, but was charged with treason by King James IV; he was released but died two days later.

His son, Alexander, 6th Lord, was created Earl of Home in 1605, and his son, James, 2nd Earl, died without children in 1633.  The title went to his distant cousin, a descendant of John Home of Whiterigs and Ersilton listed above.  Sir James Home of Coldingknows, who became 3rd Earl of Home, is the ancestor of the present 14th Earl of Home, whose seat is in Berwickshire.

Sir David Home, 3rd, of Wedderburn, had a family of sons celebrated as "the Seven Spears of Wedderburn," from whom sprang the houses of Manderston, Blackadder, Simprin and Broomhouse.  In 1963, Sir Alec Douglas Home, renounced his peerage to become UK Prime Minister, relieving another Pict descendant, Prime Minister Harold MacMillan.  Upon his return to the House of Lords, he took the title, Lord Home of the Hirsel.


According to tradition: MacBethad, son of Findláech, son of Ruadrí, son of Domnall, son of Morggán, son of Cathamal, son of Ruadrí, son of Ailgelach, son of Uraad, son of Uurgus, son of Nehhtonn, son of Colmán, son of Báetán, son of Eochaid, son of Muiredach, son of Loarn, son of Erb, son of Eochaid Muinremuir.  MacBeth (1005-1057), Mormaer of Moray, married Gruoch, daughter of Boedhe, who was the son of Kenneth III.  So MacBeth, who had ancestral roots in Moray,  was the grandson of King Malcolm II, and his wife was the granddaughter of King Kenneth III.

Under the ancient law of the Picts, he had as much claim to the throne of Scotland as did King Duncan I.   He was commander for Duncan I, whom he defeated and slew, thereby becoming king.  MacBeth was proclaimed king, and Scotland prospered during his reign.   He was later defeated by Malcolm, the son of Duncan.  Malcolm had gone to England to raise funds and an army to bring about MacBeth's downfall.  His debt to the English would have disastrous effects on Scotland for years to come.

It is a generally held opinion by Scottish historians that if MacBeth had not been killed by the future King Malcolm III, Scotland would probably have remained a separate nation until this day and might have conquered England.  Records show that he used his power for the good of his country.  His reign verifies that Picts actually ruled Albann after Kenneth MacAlpin.  . 

In Angus, 'MacBeths' received a charter from David II in 1369, but this family was of the ancestral line of the Fife Bethunes, who anciently held lands in the area. The later history of the MacBeths, the Highland Beatons and Bethunes has become hopelessly confused for, in the various lands with which they are associated, both forms were used, often referring to the same family, sometimes even to the same person.  Others duly removed to the shires of Inverness, Sutherland & Easter Ross and the name was also found in Moray where they had association with the Macbeans.

The name of this clan will always have overtones of Shakespeare's tragic Scottish king.  The real MacBeth ruled 1040 to 1057,and had little in common with the villainous figure portrayed in he play.  He had a valid claim to the throne and slew his rival on he battlefield, not in the bed chamber.  He ruled wisely and generously, finding time to make a pilgrimage to Rome, where he scattered money among the poor like seed.  He did in fact die in battle, at Lumphanan - not when Birnam Wood moved to Dunsinane as Shakespeare wrote.  

The MacBeths of Moray were the principle branch of the clan, while the Bethunes and Beatons were secondary.  The king  was christened with 'MacBeth' (anglicized) as his Christian name, as surnames were not mandatory at that time.  Mac Beatha means son of life in Gaelic, so the official Scottish version at the time would have been MacBeathad mac Findláich.  MacBeth was the last Celtic Ruler of Albann/Scotland.  After him, a series of anti-Celtic programs were initiated to forcibly  transplant Northern Picts to Welsh speaking areas of Scotland.

 Upon MacBeth's death, the name of his beloved Albann was changed to 'Scotland'

as the title of Monarch was changed from the P-Celtic 'Ri Albainn' to the Latin 'Rex Scotorum'.


Legend suggests the name of Armstrong had a very literal origin.  It was bestowed on Fairbairn, a royal armour-bearer, after he had used his strength to rescue the King of Scotland in battle.  Nevertheless, the Armstrongs are generally recognized as being descended from P-Celtic Welsh-speaking families who had settled along the Cumberland/Annandale areas, long before the Anglo-Saxons ever thought of emigrating to a Celtic Britain.

The Picto-Scottish clan system became a necessary means of survival for all rural people in Albann/Scotland after the final union of the  two crowns in 843AD, under Kenneth MacAlpine.  The tribal way of life was as firmly established in the border areas as in the Hebrides within a few hundred years.  The Armstrongs were as much of a clan as was Clan Gregor, and would at times, act quite independently of the Scottish king, or anyone else for that matter.

They were first noted as living south of the present border, where P-Celtic peoples (the southern Picts) had also settled centuries before.  It was not uncommon for old Celtic families to be allotted English names after the usurpation of the Gaelic-speaking line by the Norman Bruces, then continued under the Stewarts.

It was not until 1237 that the border between Scotland and England was settled by treaty, and then as late as the 16th century, sections were still debatable, and were frequently hotly contested.  The Armstrongs were the most turbulent, powerful, and feared of all the border clans, being able to quickly muster 3,000 horsemen.   Theirs was an unenviable task of defending a large portion of the border against English incursions, which they did well, when their own monarch was not executing their chiefs.

The territory occupied by the Armstrongs was fertile, but not extensive.  It comprised the southern half of Liddesdale, bounded on the south-east by the English border, and on the west by the river Esk, and on the north by Elliot lands.  Between 1361 and 1373, there is mention of a Gilbert Armstrong who was the Provost of the Cathedral of St. Andrew.  By 1376, 'Alexandir' Armstrong held the lands of Mangerton, which continued to be their seat until the 17th century.

From Liddesdale, they expanded into Annandale and Eskdale; and it is here, along the reaches of the river Esk, that their most romantic memorials are still to be seen. 

In 1320, Alexander, the 2nd Laird of Mangerton, was treacherously murdered by his enemies, the Soulis family at a banquet where he had been invited.  Milnholm Cross marks his grave.  In 1398, the Armstrongs had come under the protection of the powerful Earl of Douglas.  In 1482. Thomas Armstrong, 5th Earl of Mangerton, surrendered his lands to the Earl of Angus, but that arrangement was short-lived as the Armstrong Chiefs continued to maintain their lands.

During the civil strife that ended with the Battle of Sauchieburn in 1488, the Armstrongs supported the house of Douglas against James III.  Despite this failure, their star was in ascent, and the following century would see their power oust that of the king himself in Liddesdale, only to collapse in utter ruin in 1603.

After the Scots defeat at Flodden in 1513, the English harried Eskdale and lower Annandale - assisted by the Armstrongs.  to whom clan politics were more important than patriotism.  By 1524, the Earl of Angus, who had been appointed Warden of the Middle and East Marches, launched a surprise attack on the Armstrongs, capturing a dozen Armstrongs although no harm came to them.   The booty of 3,000 sheep, 600 cattle, and 500 goats was enough punishment.

In 1529, the Armstrongs of Liddesdale were said to have declared they would not take orders from either the King of Scotland or the King of England.   John Armstrong of Gilnockie, had colonized he debatable lands along the border thumbing his nose at the English.  The English Warden, Lord Dacre, retaliated in 1528 by burning Hollows Tower, John's stronghold on the Esk.  In revenge, Armstrong burned Netherby, in Cumberland.

In the summer of 1530, King James V went to the border area and halted at Carlanrig, half a mile south-west of Teviothead.  Armstrong rode out confidently to meet him, with 50 horsemen in attendance.  Enraged, James summarily ordered the hanging of Armstrong and his followers.  Armstrong and his 50 horsemen were buried at Carlanrig, and were remembered by a simple stone in the wall of the churchyard in 1897.

The power of the Armstrongs went into decline.  However, they maintained their old ways, and in 1541, they challenged the Grahams to mortal combat.  Nothing came of it, and the two families were soon back on friendly terms.  After the Scottish Rout of Solway Moss in 1542, and the death of James V, their old enemy, the Armstrongs became English pensioners, and joined in the  harrying of southern Scotland.

Throughout 1543, under a treaty with England, the Armstrongs burned 124 homesteads, took thousands of cattle, horses, sheep and goats, as well as over 400 prisoners.    In 1545, the Armstrongs allowed the English to garrison an Armstrong fortress.  Archibald, the 8th Laird of Mangerton, was an opponent of Lord Bothwell, Mary Queen of Scot's husband.

In 1569, the Regent, Bothwell over-nighted at Mangerton, then ordered it blown up the next morning.  After the death of Bothwell in 1570, the Armstrongs took on a more patriotic stance and devastated the English side of the border, allegedly to avenge the imprisonment of their Queen.  

Simon, the 9th Laird rebuilt Mangerton in 1583 but was captured by the English in his own castle.  Simon was treacherously killed by the Douglases, and his successor, Archibald, 10th Earl of Mangerton, was destined to be the last Armstrong chief.  In 1603, dismayed by the succession of James VI to the English throne, he invaded England with 200 horsemen in a futile attempt to prevent the union of the Crowns.

Inevitably he failed, and James VI took a terrible revenge, razing most of Armstrong's fortresses in Liddesdale to the ground.  Fleeing the royal wrath, Archibald, his son and heir, fled to an unknown refuge.  That was the inglorious end  of what had been the greatest border clan of all.  One that thumbed its nose at both the Kings of Scotland and England to serve their family's own purposes.

However, centuries later, the Armstrongs can boast of one of the most daring feats of mankind.  One of their own, Neil Armstrong, the first man to step on the moon, left a piece of Armstrong tartan fabric to attest forever that Clan Armstrong is the most traveled of all Scottish Clans.  Somewhere on the surface of the moon, there lies a piece of the Clan Armstrong, defiant, in its splendid isolation, looking down on the temporal passage of men and machines.


No one could possible acquire even a superficial knowledge of Scottish history without discovering the importance of the house of Douglas.  Black or Red, heroes or villains, they were always there, through every chapter of Scottish history.  No other clan experienced the dramatic heights and depths of the Douglases.  They ruled Scotland twice as Regents, they were ordered into oblivion, they raged a successful revolt against the Scottish King, and one was treacherously  murdered by the king, himself.

The Black Douglases:

The Douglases were descended from an old aristocratic Celtic (southern Pict) family in the midst of the Welsh-speaking area of Lanarkshire in southern Scotland.  The clan name is an obvious Anglicization of the P-Celtic du (for black, or dark) and glas (for blue or green in nature), not the Gaelic dubh (for black).  If it were a derivative of the Gaelic dubh, as stated in several historical documents, the name would have came out as 'Dubglas'.  It pertains to a valley south of Lanark which is dark green.

Every reference to the Douglases states their origin is obscure.  That is a good indication they were descended from Celts, otherwise a suspected Norman or a Dalriadic ancestry would have been shouted from the rooftops.

The first mention of a Douglas in history was in 1175AD when William of 'Duglas' witnessed a charter.  Between 1198 and 1211, William's son, Archibald Douglas flourished.  He was succeeded by William of the senior line that would become the Black Douglases.   William was the father of William "the Hardy', the companion of Wallace who was captured and died in the Tower of London in 1298.

His son, Sir James Douglas, occupies the third place among the heroes of the Scottish wars of independence.  He was known as 'Good' Sir James, from the many battles he won for Scottish Independence.  After fighting with Bruce at the Battle of Methven in 1306, James made a daring raid the following year on his occupied estate in Douglasdale.  Disguised as peasants, his party surprised the English garrison as they attended the Palm Sunday Mass.  Then, Douglas's men calmly ate the Englishmen's dinner before destroying their supplies, beheading the prisoners, and burning Douglas Castle.   This bloodthirsty revenge became known as the 'Douglas Larder'.

He also played a large part in the defeat of a Highland army at the Pass of Brander, the Battle of Roxburgh, and the Battle of Bannockburn.  In 1316, he defeated an English force that had been sent across the border in revenge hoping to ambush him Lintalee.   It was James who ambushed the English and routed them.  He attended Bruce at his death in 1328, and promised to take his heart to the holy land.  However, he was killed in battle in Spain.  His son fell fighting the English at Halidon Hill in 1333.

Sir James left a 'natural' son also.  Sir James's brother, Sir Archibald, became regent during the minority of Bruce's son, David II, b: 1324, and also perished at Halidon Hill, leaving a son, William, who became Earl of Douglas in `1358, and later became the Earl of Mar through marriage.

The 2nd Earl married the daughter of the first Stewart king, Robert II, but he was killed at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388, and so the 2nd legitimate line of Douglases was also extinguished.  It was now that the remarkable 'natural' son of he good Sir James, Archibald the Grim. entered into his father's inheritance as the 3rd Earl of Douglas.  He had already received huge grants from David Ii, in Galloway.  He governed there with strength and justice, and the ruins of his castle of Threave still stands as a memorial to the Black Douglas Lords of Galloway.

Archbald the Grim fought against the English at Poitiers in 1356, was taken prisoner and escaped.  His son, the 4th Earl fought at the battle of Shrewsbury against Henry IV of England in 1403.  He was taken prisoner.  After he had regained his freedom, he continued fighting against the English as a General under Joan of Arc's Dauphin, Charles VII of France.  There, he was rewarded with the Duchy of Touraine but died in battle.

His young grandson's were lured to Edinburgh after their father's death and were executed in the castle by enemies of the mighty house of Douglas, and so the earldom passed to the 2nd son of Archibald the Grim.  James the 7th Earl proved to be violent and impetuous.  William the 8th Earl succeeded in 1443, and was made Lieutenant General of the Kingdom by James II. 

He traveled to Rome in 1443 to attend the Papal Jubilee, and upon his return, James II sent him a safe conduct, and invited him to dinner in Stirling  Castle.  After dinner, the king ordered him to break his alliances with  the Earls of Crawford and Ross.  When he refused, the king stabbed him, the attendants finished him off and his body was thrown over the battlements.

A few weeks later, his brother, James, the 9th Earl of Douglas, rode through Stirling, dragging the dishonoured safe-conduct from his horse's tail.  Three years after the Stirling murder, the curtain fell on the Black Douglases. First, James II secured the submission of the 9th Earl, there was a reconciliation but not for long.  In 1455, the entire Black Douglas clan was up in arms against the king.   Their army was defeated at Arkinholm by a royal army headed by - the Earl of Angus, chief of  the Red Douglases.  The 9th Earl died a prisoner at Lindores Abbey in 1488.  The entire Douglas estates were forfeited and the Earldom was extinguished.  The Black Douglases were never heard of again.

The Red Douglases:

Going back in the Douglas family history, Archibald, who disappeared in 1239, had a younger son, Sir Andrew, founder of the senior cadet branch of the family.  In 1325, his grandson, Sir James Douglas was granted the property of Morton, originally a small holding in east Calder, Linlithgowshire.  Soon, greater honours were bestowed upon this branch of a house to which the dynasty of Bruce owed so much.

David II raised Sir William, son of Sir James, to the ancient Earldom of Atholl in 1341, but then arranged for him to exchange it for Liddesdale.  His descendants became first Lord of Dalkeith, then in 1458, Earls of Morton in Dumfries-shire.  So when the Black Douglases were forfeited in 1455, a phoenix was already rising from their ashes.

Nor was it the only one.  Going back to the 1200s, the 1st Earl of Douglas, William left a 'natural' son, George, who had married a daughter of King Robert III, and was raised to the Earldom of Angus, as befitting the husband of a Princess.  By the time the Black Douglases were forfeited, the 4th Earl of Angus, George, represented the line of what would become known as the 'Red' Douglases.  With the disappearance of the Black Douglases, George, 4th Earl of Angus, became Chief of the entire clan Douglas, and his heir, Archibald, had been born.

The Red Douglases began to occupy the centre of the stage of Scottish history almost as soon as the Black Douglases had departed from it.  By siding with the crown against their clansmen, they succeeded in acquiring much of the former Black Douglas property.  The 5th Earl of Morton, Archibald, fought at Flodden and was one of the few Scots of any note who survived.

He led the nobles rebellion against James III which ended in the defeat and death of the king at the Battle of Sauchieburn in 1488.  His grandson, also Archibald, the 6th Earl of Angus, and married Queen Margaret Tudor, widow of James IV who had fallen at Flodden.  He conducted a fierce feud with the Hamiltons.   Since he left no children, the earldom passed to the Douglases of Pittendriech.

After the death of the 8th Earl, the peerage was passed to the Douglases of Glenbervie.  As the 10th Earl became converted to Catholicism, he eventually had to emigrate to France, where he died in 1611.  The 11th Earl of Angus was promoted by Charles I to be Marquess of Douglas, and later served under Montrose.  The 3rd Marquess was created Duke of Douglas in 1703.  He fought on the Hanoverian side at the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715, and during the 'Forty five', he again supported the Government.  When he died in 1774, his Dukedom became extinct.

His title of Marquess was inherited by the Duke of Hamilton, and his estates were inherited by his nephew, Archibald Stewart Douglas of Douglas.  The Earldom of Morton is still held by this family today.  It would appear the senior representatives of the house of Douglas at present is Lord Home.

The Douglases of Drumlanrig:

The natural son of Sir James the Good, left a will leaving his estate at Drumlanrig to his natural son, William, founder of a house that would become as powerful and far-flung as any other.  Sir William, the 9th of Drumlanrig entertained James VI there in 1617, on the only visit that monarch made to Scotland after he had inherited the throne of the Tudors.  When Charles I succeeded to his father, he created Sir William Earl of Queensbury in 1628.

Once again, a cadet house of he Douglases had moved into the vacuum left by its seniors.  After the Earl of Angus fell, Douglas of Morton had risen to supreme power.  The very king who ordered Morton's execution, bestowed his favours on Drumlanrig.  From this moment, its rise was rapid and spectacular.  

The 2nd Earl of Queensbury was a fervent royalist during the wars that cost Charles his head, and his eldest son, William, reaped the reward after the restoration of Charles II.  In 1660, he became Justice-General of Scotland.  Two years later, he was appointed Lord High Treasurer and raised to the rank of Marquess.  In 1684, he became 1st Duke of Queensbury, just before Charles was succeeded by his openly Catholic brother James VII.

Then William made the critical decision that would seal the fate of his family.  Despite all he owed to the Stewarts, he was one of those who offered the crown to William of Orange, and thus placed himself on the winning side in the Revolution of 1688.  A few years later, he died, only fifty-eight years old, leaving his son, James, the 2nd Duke, to play an even more resounding part in the history of Scotland. 

James was principally responsible for the union between Scotland and England in 1707, which in reality, became an English take-over.  This had been increasingly unpopular in Scotland so James used bullying and bribery to force it through the Scottish Parliament.  His vast properties were passed to a younger son, but since then the English titles became extinct while Drumlanrig and his Dukedom passed to the Scott Dukes of Buccleuch (which were created by Charles II for his eldest illegitimate son).

It was the 9th Douglas Marquess of Queensbury that gave his name to the present rules of boxing.  The present Marquess of Queensbury is a Professor, his brother Lord Gawain Douglas a musician.


Although several references claim the Keiths are of Norman ancestry, the Lord Lyon king of Arms, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, the supreme authority on such matters, and the man with all the national resources to know, stated in his book 'The tartans and families of Scotland', published in 1958, "Amongst the most romantic names in Scottish history, is that of Keith, Marishal of Scotland, and a Celtic ancestry is claimed for this race."

The first authentic ancestor was Hervey Keith, who held the office of Marischal under Malcom IV.  His descendant succeeded to the office of Marischal in 1294, was imprisoned by the English until 1304, and in 1305, was one of King Edward's four Deputy Wardens of Scotland, but at Christmas of 1308 he joined the cause of Robert the Bruce, and was rewarded with a grant of the Royal forest of Kintore when Bruce became ruler.

The Keiths were superb horsemen, and they were responsible for supplying and training the war horses for the Scottish army.  As the English had huge Clydesdale type horses, the Scots had mere ponies inherited from the Picts.  The large English horses were impressive but they required high maintenance, and were unreliable in close combat.  The Scottish ponies were tough, reliable and economical.

As Commander of the Scots cavalry at Bannockburn,  Keith's attack annihilated the English army.   He was rewarded handsomely with many of the forfeited Comyn estates in Buchan.  He co-signed the letter to the Pope in 1459 declaring Scottish independence from the English.  His great-grandson, Sir William Keith, founded the tower of Dunottar Castle.  Sir William's son, Sir Robert, was elevated to the peerage as Lord Keith.Field Marshal James Keith

Sir Robert's son, William, 2nd Lord, was created Earl Marischal in 1458.  His son, William, 2nd Earl, fought at Flodden.  The 3rd Earl, 'William of the Tower' a distinguished statesman, lived in seclusion at Dunottar much of his life.   His grandson, George, 4th Earl, was Ambassador Extraordinary to Denmark, in 1593, he founded Marischal College in Aberdeen.  William, 5th Earl, was created Admiral of Scotland.  He appeared as Marischal at the coronation of Charles I.

William, 6th Earl, was a Covenanter, but in 1651, he rescued the Regalia and carried it to Dunottar.  His brother, 7th Earl, was a Royalist whose grandson, George, 9th Earl, and the last Earl Marischal, joined the Earl of Mar in 1715, and with his celebrated brother, Field Marshal James Keith, retired to the continent where his exploits rendered the name of Keith famous throughout the world.  The Earl became Frederick the Great's closest friend, and the Field Marshal became his greatest General.  Field Marshall Keith fought for both Russia and Prussia, and became Governor of the Ukraine and Finland under Czar Peter II, and fell at Hochkirsch in 1758.  He was another brilliant Scottish Jacobite refugee soldier who made his mark on the world stage.  For more information on him, check here.

Upon Earl George's death in 1778, the chiefship passed to Keith of Ravelston, who acted as Knight Marischal to King George IV.  On the death of William, 4th Earl, the Chiefship passed to the grandson of his sister, Lady Catherine Keith; Antony Adrian, 5th Earl and 8th Lord Falconer of Halkerton.  Arthur George Keith, 10th Earl of Kintore, now Chief of the Clan Keith, has his seat at Keith Hall in Aberdeenshire.

The bloodiest of the Scottish inter-clan feuds:

Lachlan Gunn of Braemor had an only daughter, Helen, who was famous for her beauty, and the day of her marriage to her cousin, Alexander, was fixed;  but Dugald Keith of Ackergill, whose advances she had spurned, surrounded her father's house with a body of armed Keiths.  They slew many of the Gunns, who were unprepared for an attack, and carried off the girl to Ackergill, where she was raped and, eventually threw herself from the tower.

This was the spark that ignited a bloody feud that lasted for many years.

Raid upon raid followed, back and forth between the Keiths and the Gunns, and in 1426, a vicious battle was fought at Harpsdale.  That conflict was indecisive.  In 1464, the chief of Clan Gunn, George  'Crowner' Gunn, became weary of the feud, and called for a meeting with the Keiths.  The chief of the Keiths agreed to meet, and settle it amicably with twelve men each.

The Keiths showed up with twenty-four men - two to a horse, and attacked the Gunns; the Gunns fought desperately but were all cut down.  George Gunn was killed, and stripped entirely, and left for his clansmen to find.

Soon after, William MacKames, a kinsman of the Gunns, killed George Keith, his son, and ten more of his men at Drummoy.

And so it went.


When a record, states "nothing is known for certain of the origin of this clan", one can be sure that it was Pict.

Tradition tells us the MacLeans were one of the numerous Pict families that were expelled  from Moray by Malcolm IV in the 1100s.  They were resettled in the south amidst the Britons of Perthshire, as were many other 'politically unreliable' northern Picts.   They were a populous and thriving clan, notable for their colourful legends.  Those who look of romance in Highland clans will be enthralled by the many stories of the MacLeans.

Their first known ancestor was a Dugald, 'dark stranger' in P-Celtic.   The clan takes its name from Gill'Eathain na Tuaigh, (Gillian of the Battle-axe), in commemoration of their first chief, seven generations descended from Dugald.  In 1263, Gillian fought in the army of Alexander III against the Norsemen at the Battle of Largs.  Gillian's grandson similarly fought for Bruce and Scotland at Bannockburn.  He married a daughter of the Lord of the Isles, and had three sons, including his heir, Iain Dubh.  Through this marriage, the MacLeans acquired the lands of Duart, in eastern Mull, from which they would expand into one of the great powers of the western Isles.

Iain Dubh had two sons, Lachlan Lubanach (the Crafty), who succeeded him in Duart, and Hector Reaganach (the Stubborn), ancestor of the house of Lochbuie, and the MacLeans of Urquhart.  These brothers attached themselves to the MacDonald Lord of the Isles, thereby becoming influential enough to expel the previous inhabitants, the MacKinnons.

The MacLeans were divided into four main branches, corresponding to their diverse geographical territory; Duart, Coll, Lochbuie and Ardgour.  The MacLean lands, although separated by water, formed a single geographic concentration, with the exception of their northern  lands in Glen Urquhart.  Their southern lands were wild and infertile, mostly rough pasture or woodland.  The only arable land lay along the coast on the Island of Mull.  The one abundant harvest was fish from the sea and the nearby lochs.

The MacLeans of Duart were the senior line.  Lachlan was succeeded by his son Eachan Ruadh nan Cath (Red Hector of the battles) in 1405, and he was killed in the Battle of Harlaw in 1411.  Red Hector's  son, Lachlan, had several sons, among them the progenitors of the branches of Ardgour and Coll.  His grandson, Hector Odhar, 10th Chief of Duart, was killed at Flodden in 1513.

This chief's 'natural' son, Lachlan Cattanach, married a daughter of the Campbell Earl of Argyll, with disastrous consequences.  According to the story, he marooned his wife on a tidal island in an effort to drown her.  Some fishermen happened along and saved her.  In revenge, her brother, Sir John Campbell, murdered MacLean in Edinburgh in 1523.  

By the 1500s, the MacLeans were profiting hugely from the collapse of the MacDonald empire.  they soon felt strong enough to attack the MacDonald's trade routes at Jura and Islay.  Sir Lachlan Mor MacLean, 14th Chief of Duart, fought in the royal army against the Catholic Lords at Glenlivet in 1594, but survived this defeat, only to be killed four years later in battle against the MacDonalds at Tràigh Ghruineard in Islay.

Lachlan's grandson and namesake, was created a baronet in 1631.  He fought under Montrose, so Argyll and his Covenanters laid waste to MacLean lands.  In revenge, Sir Lachlan razed Castle Campbell (near Dollar) to the ground.  His son and heir, Hector, was killed fighting in the royal army at the Battle of Inverkeithing in 1651.  Hector's grandson, Sir John MacLean, 4th baronet, fought at the head of his clan for the Stuarts at Killiecrankie and Sheriffmuir.  After 1688, Argyll obtained the entire Duart estate with little difficulty.

Sir John's son, Hector, was created Lord MacLean by the exiled Pretender, but was arrested before he could join Prince Charlie in 1745.  However, the clan fought at Culloden under MacLean of Drimmin.  As with other Catholic Highlanders, many MacLeans fled Britain after Culloden for the continent, and served with distinction in German or Swedish armies.  Archibald MacLean, premier lieutenant of the Prussian Life Guards, won the Iron Cross in the Franco-Prussian War.

Duart Castle had been occupied by Hanoverian troops after Culloden, and fell into ruin until it was repurchased and restored by MacLean of Duart in 1911.  In 1912, Fitzroy MacLean, 12th baronet and 26th Chief of the MacLeans was restored to his ancient seat at Duart Castle with a fitting ceremony.   



This clan derived its name from the old Pict Mormaer of Ross in northern Albann.   Ross means 'a point of land'.  Fearchar Mac an t-Sagairt (Farquhar, Son of the Priest) was head of the ancient house of O'Beolain in Wester Ross, hereditary lay lords of the vast lands of the Abbey of Applecross, which had been founded by St. Maelrubha in the 7th century.  It is sometimes referred to in Gaelic as "Clan Andreus" (St. Andrew).

The Rosses were politically adroit, able to sense the tides of fortune down through Scottish history.  They supported successively the extension of the Scottish crown to the north, the cause of Bruce, the Reformation, the Covenant, the Revolution and the Hanoverian dynasty, all winners that rewarded the Rosses.

In 1215, a rebellion broke out in Moray and Ross against the newly-introduced feudal system, a formidable challenge to the authority of King Alexander II.  Farquhar put down the revolt and was knighted as a reward.  By 1226, he was the Earl of Ross. Earl Farquhar died in 1251, and was succeeded by his son, William, who conquered Sky and Lewis.  His son and namesake, became Earl in 1274, and later fought in the Wars of Independence.  In 1306, he was forced to vio9late the shrine of St. Duthac by handing over Bruce's wife and daughter to the English.  He fought at Bannockburn, was a signatory of the Declaration of Abroath, and died in 1322.

His son, Hugh, 4th Earl of Ross, was killed at Halidon Hill in 1333.  When Hugh's son, William, died in 1372, he left only a daughter, Euphemia, who brought the Earldom of Ross into Clan Leslie by marriage making the Clan Ross vassals o the Leslies.  From the 15th to the 16th century, the Rosses were preoccupied with a feud against the MacKays of Strathnaver.  This reached a disastrous climax in July 1486, when Alexander, 6th Earl of Balnagown, and 17 clansmen were among those killed in battle.

At the Reformation, the clan embraced Protestantism, and fought against Montrose at Carbisdale.   He later fought for Charles II at Worcester, died a prisoner in London in 1653 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.  His son, David, 13th of Balnagown, who supported William and Mary in 1689, was the last of the direct line.  He willed the Balnagown estate to the Renfrewshire family of Ross of Hawkhead.

In both Jacobite rebellions, the Rosses took the Whig side.  During the Clearances in the 19th century, the clan suffered heavily.   George Ross was a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence.  Many Rosses also achieved distinction in Canada, and in Prussia, the Counts Von Ross were famous soldiers.  Balnagown is no longer owned by the Rosses, and the Rosses of Shandwick appear to be the senior surviving line.

Ross septs are Corbett, Denoon, Fern, MacCulloch, MacTaggart, MacTear, Mitchell, Tarrell, and Vass.


This clan descends from a 12th century Gilleoin, reputed to have been a scion of the ancient royal house of Lorne.  This name was derived from the Gaelic 'Mac Mhath-gham' (Son of the Bear).  According the Gaelic Manuscript of 1450, the Mathesons and the MacKenzies were kinsmen.

The clan was granted the lands of Lochalsh and Kintail in Wester Ross by the mediaeval Earls of Ross.  Kenneth MacMathan, constable of Eilean Donan Castle, joined Alexander III's expedition against the Norsemen of King Haakon in 1262.  Their star rose quickly, and by the early 15th century, the Chief of the Mathesons was said to have 2,000 men at his command.

The other main branch of the family lived at Shiness, Sutherland.  Their leader was James Sutherland Matheson, benefactor of Lewis and co-founder if Jardine, Matheson & Co.

Once the rule of the western isles had come under the Lordship of the MacDonalds, the Mathesons became their supporters, especially when the Earldom of Ross became part of their principality.  Mathesons fought for the MacDonalds at the Battle of Harlaw in 1411, where Alasdair, their Chief was taken prisoner.  From that time onwards, the fortunes of the MacDonalds waned, and with it those of the Mathesons.  The MacLeods on the west and the MacQueens on the east squeezed the Mathesons into oblivion.

On Matheson did succeed in obtaining a footing in the organizations of church and state.  Dougal mac Ruadhri Matheson was prior of Beauly on the borders of Ross between 1498 and 1514; and he sat in parliament in 1504 when Ross was erected into  a separate sheriffdom.   More characteristically. the Matheson Chief, Iain Dubh, died defending Eilean Donan Castle in Wester Ross in 1539.  On this occasion, they were supporting their kinsmen, the MacKenzies, against the MacDonalds.

Branches of he Mathesons spread to the Hebrides and to the north of Scotland, and it was among those that the clan produced the great Gaelic poet, Donald Matheson (1719 - 1782).  Sir James Matheson went forth to found his great commercial empire in the far east  and came back to buy much of the island of Lewis.  The woodland that he planted there remains as a testament to his love for his homeland. 

Large numbers of Mathesons emigrated overseas, those that remained had their thatched roofs burned over their heads during the Kildonan clearances in the early 1800s.



This ancient Celtic name was taken from lands the family occupied near Borthwick Water in Roxburghshire.  In 1425, a Borthwick Lord served as a hostage in England as part of the ransom for the imprisoned Scottish King, James I.  Mary Queen of Scots, and her third husband, Earl Bothwell, sheltered in Borthwick Castle after their marriage in 1567.

In about 1410, Sir William Borthwick acquired lands in the Borders and Midlothian, and not long after, members of the family became Lords in the Scottish Parliament.


The clan Kennedy was descended from a branch of the Pict Lords of Galloway.  They were derived from Gilbert, father of Duncan, 1st Earl of Carrick, whose son, Neil, 2nd Earl, settled the chiefship in favour of his nephew, Roland de Carrick, who married one of the Earl's daughters, and died before 1275.  Roland's nickname was Ceannaideach (Gaelic for ugly-headed), and which became the name of the clan.

From his grandson, Gilbert de Carrick, the chiefship, was settled in favour of his heiress-wife, Mary de Carrick.  passed in right of his wife to John Kennedy of Dunure, Captain of the Clan Muintircasduff.  His son, Sir Gilbert Kennedy of Dunure, was the father of James of Dunure, who married Princess Mary, daughter of Robert III.  Their son, Gilbert, was one of the six Regents of Scotland during the minority of James III.  He was made Lord Kennedy in 1457, and was assassinated by Sir Hew Campbell of Loudon in 1527.

Gilbert's brother, James, had a distinguished career also, he served briefly as Lord High Chancellor of Scotland.  He subsequently became Archbishop of St. Andrews, where he founded St. Salvator's College in 1455, which eventually became St. Andrews University.

Gilbert's son, David, 3rd Lord Kennedy, was created Earl of Cassillis in 1509.  He fell at Flodden.  John Kennedy, the 4th Earl, was celebrated for 'roasting the Abbott of Crossraguel'.  John's son, John, 5th Earl, had no children, and was succeeded by his nephew, the 6th Earl.  Archibald, 11th Earl. was a distinguished Naval Officer during the American War of Independence, and owned part of New York City.  His son, Archibald, was created Marquis of Ailsa in 1806.

Archbald, 4th Marquis, was a distinguished authority in Celtic matters, and President of the Royal Celtic Society.  His younger brother, the present chief, is 6th Marquis, whose seats are at Culzean Castle, and Cassillis, in Ayrshire. 


Traditionally, the MacArthurs, who descended from either ancient British (or possibly Pict) stock, are the oldest of all clans in Argyllshire.  By 300AD, the Britons' P-Celtic language had displaced the old Orcadian Pict language all the way to the Shetland Islands.  After the Roman Legions had left Britain after 400AD, the British kingdoms of Gododdin, Strathclyde and Rheded in southern Albann, fought to maintain their independence from both the Picts to the north, and the Angles to the south.

In their P-Celtic language, the earliest surviving Scottish poem was composed, telling of the defeat of the Gododdin heroes by the Angles, and this poem contains the earliest reference to the British resistance leader, Arthur.  The story of Arthur travelled over the Brythonic world until he was given a new setting as far south as Tintagel in Welsh-speaking Cornwall. 

In the 13th century, a MacArthur married the heiress of Duncan mac Duibhne of Loch Awe.  This was before the rise of the Campbells who were also called the Clanh Ua Duibhne.   Therefore, it is claimed by some that the MacArthurs were the forebears of the Campbells.  The MacArthurs greatly increased their territory through their support of Robert the Bruce in the Scottish wars of independence.

As an extra reward, their chief was made hereditary Captain of the Castle of Dunstaffnage.  Part of their new estates had once belonged to the MacDougalls, who had opposed the Bruce and were punished accordingly.  MacArthur ascendancy only lasted for a century before John MacArthur was beheaded by James I in 1427, when he 'cleaned house' on his return from his long captivity in England.  All MacArthur lands were forfeited to the crown.

This was the royal way of settling an ancient territorial dispute with the MacRuars, who were connected to the Drummonds.  The MacRuar chief was also executed, ostensibly to ensure the other clan chiefs behaved better.  However, in modern times, the name of MacArthur has been carried to the ends of the earth.General of the Army, Douglas MacArther -  in 1945.

John MacArthur (1767 - 1834) arrived with his regiment in 1790 in New South Wales, where he was Commandant at Parramatta from 1793 to 1804.  In 1794, he laid the foundations for the Australian wool industry by crossing Bangali and Irish sheep, then introducing Merino sheep from Africa.  In 1817, he planted the first Australian vineyard. 

In 1807, Captain Bligh of the Bounty, who had been appointed Governor, tried to arrest MacArthur, but MacArthur showed him he had met his match by arresting him instead.  He justly ranks as a father of Australia.

In 1840, an emigrant from Strathclyde, landed in the United States.  His son, Arthur MacArthur served in the army, a career that was followed by his son, General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur (1880 - 1964), who was the Supreme Allied Commander of the Pacific war, and became Military Governor of Japan after receiving the surrender of Emperor Hirohito at the end of the second World War.

  In a typical understatement, when asked what he thought of the former General Eisenhower becoming President of the United States, he responded;  "I'm sure he'll do a fine job, he was the best clerk I ever had".


Literally this means in English, 'British foreigner'.  It denotes the P-Celtic-speaking Britons, or 'Southern Picts', who occupied Strathclyde in south-western Scotland.    Its capital had been Dumbarton, the impregnable rock fortress called "Fortress of the Britons" in Gaelic.  Strathclyde became a part of Scotland in 1124AD, and the first Galbraith Chief appeared, in circumstances that indicate he was the equal to the royal house of Lennox.  

His name was Gilchrist Brydon (Brethnach in Gaelic) , and he married a daughter of Alwyn Og, son of Moireahh (Muirdhach in Gaelic), first Earl of Lennox in the new order.  Their son, 2nd Chief, Gillespic, was father of a 3rd Chief, who bore the suggestive name of Arthur.  The family stronghold stood at Inchgalbraith.  Arthur's son, William, 4th Chief, moved into the centre of the national stage when he became on of the co-regents of Scotland.

Sir William died shortly after the outbreak of the Scottish wars of independence, but his son, Sir Arthur, supported Bruce and outlived the victory at Bannockburn.  Thereafter, the fortunes of the Galbraith varied with those of the house of Lennox.  James, the 9th Chief, was the first from Gilcreuch in Strathendrick, a cadet branch until then.  

It was at that time that James I returned from his 18 year captivity in England, and killed off his own Stewart relatives.  First among them was the ducal family of Albany and their Lennox kinsmen.  James of Gilcreuch was said to have helped the Lennoxes sack Dumbarton in 1425, and had to flee west to Kintyre with 600 Galbraiths to escape the King's wrath.

After James III had been murdered in 1488, Thomas the 12th Chief, took up arms with Lennox against the royalists.  But these possessed the person of the young King, and after the defeat of Talla Moss, Thomas was hanged in 1489.  His brother escaped and received the estates n the general remission which followed.  Andrew, the 14th Chief, once again joined Lennox in 1526, when he attempted to rescue the young King James V from the Douglases.

Lennox was captured and killed, but the King remained grateful.  The long association between the houses of Galbraith and Lennox was culminated when the James, the 16th clan Galbraith Chief, administered the vast Lennox estates.  Robert, the 17th Chief, was an unscrupulous rogue who brought disaster upon his house, in which ironically, the proscribed Clan Gregor played  a part.  In 1592, he was given a Royal Commission to pursue the Clan Gregor, and he misused his powers to persecute the Chief of MacAulay, who had married Robert's widowed mother (against his wishes).

Due to this and other criminal acts, Robert was denounced as a rebel, and in 1622, fled to Ireland where he died before 1642.  His son and heir inherited nothing, and his grandson, James the 19th Chief, is the last traceable one of his line.  A generation after the sack of Dumbarton, a member of the family of hereditary Galbraith harpers in the island of Gigha, composed the poems that survive in the Book of the MacGregor Dean of Linsmore.   This ancient tradition is carried on by the Gaelic singer, Carol Galbraith.


The Scotts took their name from their nationality.  The name 'Scott' became almost a title, restricted to men of high birth and eminence.  They were guardians of the central area of the border, the 'middle march'.  They withstood the main thrust of many English invasions, and at times, carried fire and sword into English territory.

Nothing is known of the shadowy first Scott, except he came from Galloway, a Pict stronghold in southern Albann.  His son, Uchtredus, witnessed charters of David I in 1128, and left two sons, Richard and Michael.  Uchtred was not a Dalriadic Scottish name, although it appears to have been a Gaelic translation of a Pict name, likely 'Uudrost' or 'Uuroid', which are unpronounceable in Gaelic.

It has been written in several books that there is nothing to indicate he was of Dalriadic Scottish descendancy.

Sir Michael acquired estates in Fife, and was ancestor of the Scotts of Balweary and Ancrum.  Richard of Molle, the heir, was succeeded by his son, William, who was mentioned in many early 13th century charters.  It was in the time of William's sons, Walter and Richard, that the family emerged as important landowners with a growing power base in southern Scotland.

In 1346, Walter of Scotstoun's line died out, and was replaced by Richard's family.  Richard married the heiress of Murthockston, in Lanark-shire, and became owner of the estate.  He was appointed Ranger of Ettick Forest, an office which brought him he lands of Buccleuch, in the county of Selkirk, where he built his primary residence.  Richard died in 1320, and his son, Sir Michael, became 2nd Lord of Buccleuch and Murthockston.

Sir Michael was a strong supporter of Bruce, and later, David II against the Balliol faction. He fought at the Battle of Halidon Hill, and was killed in action at Durham in 1346, leaving two sons, Robert and John.  Robert inherited the Buccleuch and Murthockston estates, to which he added Scotstoun on the extinction of the senior line.  John founded the cadet house of Synton, from which descended the Lords of Polwarth.  Robert died in 1389 from wounds received at the Battle of Otterburn, and was succeeded by his son Walter, 4th, of Buccleuch.

Sir Walter took part in the negotiations with the English at Haldane, in Roxburgh-shire in 1398, when a vain attempt was made to establish peace on the Border.  Four years later, Sir Walter fell at the Battle of Homildon Hill.  Walter's son, Robert, 5th of Buccleuch, consolidated the land-holdings of he expanding Clan Scott.  In 1415, he exchange4d his lands at Glenkerry for the strategically important uplands of Bellenden. Then in 1420, he acquired half the lands of Branxholm.

After Sir Robert's death in 1426, his son, Sir Walter, 6th of Buccleuch, further enlarged the family's estates by exchanging his lands of Murthockston for the remaining half of Branxholm, whose previous owner wished to rid himself of the tedious job of defending it from English raiders.  Royal favour increased Sir Walter's prosperity when, in 1455, he routed the rebel Douglases at Arkinholm, and received various tracts of Douglas land as a reward for his services.

In 1463, his lands of Branxholm were erected into a feudal barony, held by annual payment to the Crown of one red rose.  Sir Walter's younger brother founded the cadet house of Haining.

When Sir Walter died in 1469, his son, David became Laird of Buccleuch and Branxholm; David's younger brothers were ancestors of the Scotts of Howpasley and Hassendean.  With the foundation of so many junior branches and such widespread land acquisitions, the Scotts were now a powerful Border clan.  This power received recognition in 1476 when the Earl of Angus appointed David Scott Governor of Hermitage Castle, a great Border fortress.

Buccleuch supported James III throughout his reign despite his son having married the sister of Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, who led a rebellion against the King.  David Scott's grandson and heir, Walter 8th Lord of Buccleuch.  His son, also Walter, 9th Lord of Buccleuch, was the most famous chief of Clan Scott.

As a young man, he was knighted at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.  Then he was made hereditary Bailie - of the Abbey at Melrose, an office which was more of a liability than an asset, due to the many incursions by English raiders.  The 1500s were the worst period of border warfare, with Scotland weakened with three successive child sovereigns, as well as being torn apart by religious dissensions.

Clan feuds provided an additional discord, and none was more bitter than the feud between the Scotts of Buccleuch and the Kerrs of Cessford.  In 1524, the Queen dowager, Margaret, threw both Buccleuch and Cessford in prison to let them cool off.   However, Buccleuch escaped, and joined the party of nobles opposed to Queen Margaret.

The lawlessness of the Border clans was of great concern to both the Scottish and English governments.  They existed primarily on plunder, as their crops was often burned and their cattle often driven off.  Their properties became wastelands although the leading families thrived.  The Archbishop pf Glasgow and other church dignitaries actually excommunicated the 'Borderers' and cursed their wives, children and servants in an effort to bring them to heel.  It didn't work.

On 25th July 1526, at Darnick, Buccleuch tried unsuccessfully to free James VI from the custody of the Douglas Earl of Angus.  The English burned Branxholm in 1532, though the Scots had their revenge in 1544 when they helped Arran defeat an English army at Ancrum Moor.  Three years later, Buccleuch was among the Scots routed at the Battle of Pinkie.

In 1565, a complicated set of proposed marriages was designed to bring the two feuding families together, but ironically Sir Thomas Kerr of Ferniehurst fell in love with Walter's sister, Janet, who became his wife.  So the feud with the Kerrs ended, although others sprang up such as the one with the Elliots.  The English subsidized an Elliot raid into Scott territory, and while pursuing the raiders, the Scotts were ambushed, resulting in heavy losses.  The Scotts also had a notable feud with the English Charltons of Tynedale.

The 10th Lord of Buccleuch was a partisan of Mary Queen of Scots, and deeply involved in her turbulent reign until his early death in 1574.  His son, another Walter, followed the family tradition of military daring, and became known to his enemies as "the Scourge of God".   Most famous of his many exploits was the daring rescue of William Armstrong from Carlisle Castle, under the noses of the English garrison. 

In 1606, Sir Walter was created Lord Scott of Buccleuch and his son, who inherited the title in 1611, was made Earl of Buccleuch in 1619.  Both saw military service abroad in the Dutch army.

Upon the union of the two crowns in 1603, the old ways of the Border were doomed.  Raids were not tolerated, and a way of life died out quickly.  From the 17th century on, the Scotts were great nobles rather than great chiefs.  There was no more need of independent clans in a united Great Britain.  The 2nd Earl died at 25.

His sister married James, Duke of Monmouth, an illegitimate son of Charles II.  On their wedding day, they were created Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch.  After the failure of Monmouth's rebellion against his uncle, James VII, he was executed and his widow retained the title, which passed to her descendants.

The Harden line produced an offshoot, the Scotts of Raeburn, who produced the greatest figure in Scottlsh literature, Sir Walter Scott of Abbotsford.  His works, strongly  influenced by his clan heritage, were responsible for the rehabilitation of the MacGregors in the public eye.  He wrote romantic novels about Rob Roy MacGregor, and in 'The Lady of the Lake', he romanticized the fiery cross, and the plight of the MacGregors through the use of a fictional character, 'Roderick MacAlpine'.

Another clan member, Michael Scott, whose intellectual eminence gained him a European reputation in the 13th century, as well as the post of tutor to Emperor Frederick II (1194 - 1250). (King of Sicily, King of Cyprus and Jerusalem,
King of Germany, and Holy Roman Emperor.

The chief of the Clan Scott is the Duke of Buccleuch, still resident in his ancestral territory.  

Clann Erskine


The Erskine tartan is similar to that of the Clann Gregor.  The Highland Erskines (Arascain) associated with the old Earldom of Mar, became chiefs of the Pictish tribe that inhabited that region, in right of their descent from Donald MacEmin, who was himself Mormaer of Mar (ca. 1014) in right of his descent from a Pictish heiress.

Ordinarily, such chiefly inheritance as that of the Highland Erskines, being through the female line, included taking the sept-name of the male-line chief, except in cases likes this of the "tribe of Mar," where no hereditary patronymic was yet in existence.

The then Erskine Earl of Mar was forfeited for having served as a leader in the Jacobite rising of 1715, the abortive attempt to reinstate the line of the ancient Kings of Scots, the House of Stewart.


The term, 'Welsh' appeared in the earlier English form of 'Weallise' and the mediaeval form of 'Wallensis', and was applied to the all British peoples from Strathclyde in Scotland to Brittany in France who spoke P-Celtic family of languages, now represented by Welsh, Breton and to a much lesser extent, Cornish.  in the 12th century, the Kings of Scots were still addressing their subjects as distinct ethnic groups; French, English, Scots and Welsh.

In the 2nd half of he 12th century, a man called Richard, defined as a Wallace, obtained lands in Ayrshire, which belongs to the former kingdom of Strathclyde.  His grandson, Sir Malcom Wallace, received the lands of Elderslie in Renfrewshire.  Such was the back ground of Malcolm's son, William, who was to evoke a national spirit which untied so many disparate peoples and to earn his place as Scotland's greatest patriot.Memorial outside Barts Hospital, London

Sir William Wallace of Elderslie was born about 1275.  In 1286, Alexander III died, leaving his grand daughter, the Maid of Norway as his sole descendant.  When she died in 1290, the direct line of the kings of Scots became extinct, and the crown was in dispute between opposing elements, all of whom were subject to Edward I of England.  Edward was invited to adjudicate, and immediately revived the claim that his predecessor was Lord Paramount of Scotland. 

He then selected the rightful heir, John Balliol, but then treated him with much disdain as a vassal king that King John was finally provoked into resistance.  Thereupon, Edward invaded Scotland, carried John Balliol off to the Tower of London, and subjugated Scotland.

Wallace then emerged as a guerilla leader of indomitable courage and skill.  In 1297, an English force moved north to destroy him but he routed them at Stirling Bridge.  Stirling Castle surrendered to him, and in a few weeks the Scots were invading England.  Wallace and his associate, Sir Andrew Murray of Moray, wrote to other countries advising them that normal trade could commence as thanks to the Grace of God, Scotland was now free.

In fact, the Wars of Independence continued for many years to come.  Facing overwhelming odds, Wallace was forced to flee to France but returned in 1303.  Two years later, he was betrayed, and arrested near Glasgow, and then taken to London in 1304.

He was executed in London with extreme cruelty in the cruelest of deaths, the one reserved for traitors; hanging, drawing and quartering. Then the final humiliation, his head was hung for display at London Bridge.

However, Wallace had sown the seeds of patriotism as none of his nation had done before him, and he was raised to the place of highest honour in Scotland.  Although he left no known descendants, there are many fortunate enough to bear his name, and they can trace their descent back to the house of Riccarton from which he sprang. 

The feelings of betrayal of those who 'bled for Wallace' continued for decades, and it was a factor in so many Highland Chiefs' antagonism towards Robert Bruce, which, in turn, resulted in so much upheaval in the Highlands as Bruce turned against those he felt were his enemies.  Among other conflagrations, it sparked the nemesis of the Clan Gregor and several other patriotic Highland clans.



The Fletchers (Mac an Fhleistear in Gaelic) claim to have been the first humans to have drawn water in Argyll.  If that is not sufficient proof of their aboriginal Pict origins, one only has to glance at Clan Gregor history to see that many Picts who belonged to Clan Gregor were given trade names such as Skinner, Fisher, Stringer, Bowmaker, Stalker, Wanamaker - and Fletcher.

In 1497. Fletchers recovered cattle belonging to the Stewarts, which had been rustled by the MacDonalds.  This earned the clan the gratitude of Stewart of Appin, who pledged to help the Fletchers whenever they needed it. 

Although the Fletchers spread throughout Albann, they had particular associations with the MacGregors and with the Achallader at the head of Glenn Orchy.  The MacGregors of Argyll used arrows made by the Fletchers of Glenn Orchy.  The MacGregors of Perthshire used arrows made by the Fletchers of Glenn Lyon, another MacGregor territory.  Clan Fletcher lived in many areas of Albann as there was a universal need for their skills. 

Down through history, MacGregors have considered the Fletchers as their own, and they were interchangeable with the MacGregors in historical narrations.  A Fletcher saved the life of Rob Roy MacGregor after he was wounded in battle.  On the official Clan Gregor website, there is a unique genealogical  section reserved for the Fletchers.

Many touching stories of MacGregors were actually about Fletchers, such as the true story of the most revered of all Scottish love songs;  One of the most immoral and horrific acts of vengeance in the annals of English armed forces was committed under the orders of the butcher of Culloden at Carlisle, a few miles south of the Scottish border on England's west coast. 

When Jacobite troops swept out of Scotland towards London in 1745, they met with success after lucky success.  The town of Carlisle was quickly surrounded and the English garrison was promised a safe passage out of the town if they surrendered their arms and left peacefully.   That is exactly what happened.  A skeleton garrison force was left behind, amongst them was an officer in Charlie's army of the Clan Gregor.  In 1746, when two English armies were chasing the Highlanders back into Scotland, the town was surrounded again, this time by Hanoverian troops.

Naturally, this garrison expected to be treated as they had treated the English when the fortunes of war were reversed.  Such was not the case.  The men were quickly rounded up and treated  as common criminals.  Those men from the ranks who took a renewed oath of allegiance to George II were pardoned.  The remainder were thrown into prisons where many perished from maltreatment.   However, they fared much better than their 3 officers, who were summarily sentenced to death by hanging and quartering.

That method of execution was uniquely English, and terribly gruesome, as it combined hanging, drawing, and then before death, the victim was quartered, a special death accorded to traitors, the same death they had forced on the greatest of all Scottish patriots, Sir William Wallace..  Due to a request by the town officials for mercy, the condemned men were allowed one letter each to family.  One such letter was sent by Lt. Fletcher to his wife, through a friend who was being pardoned and was returning to the Highlands.. 

An old Gaelic myth claims that a Highlander who dies outside his beloved homeland will return home through the underground.  So he told his friend "Ye take the high road and I'll take the low road, and I'll be in Scotland afore ye".  It became one of the most beloved and moving love songs ever written.  It was written in Gaelic, but the English version was called:

"The ballad of Loch Lomond"

-and it was attributed to a MacGregor, although his surname was Fletcher.

To download this hauntingly beautiful song in mp3 format, click here.