Highland Clans in Scotland

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Highland Clans

                        HIGHLAND CLANS & SEPTS
                   * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
 [Origin: Dalriada Celtic Heritage Society, Isle of Arran]

 The Clan system is a popular area of Scottish history which emerged
 from the old tribal ways of the people living in the land we now call
 Scotland. From around the 10th to 13th centuries more and more names
 became recognised as Clan names with varied histories and genealogies
 drawn from the Oral tradition. Not all Clan names can be identified as
 being solely Celtic, many came into being with the arrival of the 
 Normans and others have been drawn from the names of Saints. This in
 itself reflects the changes in power affecting the land at that time
 as the people allied themselves to leaders who, in their eyes, seemed
 to be the most influential. This also brings up the point that although
 Clan names are now representative of blood lines, this was not the case
 initially as the Clan system came into being.
 The following is a list, in alphabetical order, of the Highland Clans.
 Due to the length of the list their associated Septs will be given in
 another file. 
 * * * *
 From the Gaelic 'Brothach' and one of the original tribes of Moray. An
 ancient Clan with Brodie Castle at Forres being the uninterrupted seat
 of Brodie of Brodie.

 Clan Badge: Periwinkle 
 Known branches: Brodie of Lethen, Brodie of Idvies in Angus.  

 * * * * *
 From the 'Siol O'Cain' (along with the MacMillans) one of the ancient
 tribes of North Moray. The Historian, Buchanan of Auchmar says the name
 O'Cain came from the progenitor Ansela O'Cain or O'Kyan in the 11th C.

 * * * * 
 Taken from 'Cam-Shron' or 'wry-nose' of an early Chief. Territory in 
 Lochaber. Once vassals to the Lord of the Isles and once formed a 
 branch of Clan Chattan. Ancestral seat at Achnacarry
 Known branches: MacMartins of Letterfinlay, MacGillonies of Stron, 
                 MacSorlies of Glen Nevis. 

 * * * * *
 The Celtic name for this Clan is Clan Duibhne taken from the hero 
 Dairmid O'Duin. Chief's title is MacCailein Mor. The name Campbell came
 into being when Eva O'Duine, the head of the Clan, married Gillespic

 * * * * 

 Name taken from the Chief, Gilliechattan Mor, 'Great Servant of St. 
 Catan. Lands in Glenlui, Loch Arkaig, Gellovie, Lochaber and Badenoch.
 One of the Chattan line, Ewan Ban, became the ancestor of 
 Clan MacPherson.
 There were 17 tribes considered kin of Clan Chattan listed as follows:
                  Vurich (MacPherson)
                  Gillivray (MacGillivray)
                  Vean (MacBean)
                  Dhai (Davidsons)
                  Clan vic Gorries
                  Cheandui of Glenbeg
                  Slioch Gow Chruin (Smith)
                  Clan vic Gillandris na Connage
                  Clan Clerich
                  Slioch Illvorvic Innish
                  Clan Phail (MacPhail)
                  Clan Fionlaigh Cheir
                  Clan Inteir.
 There was also nine tribes of the Clan MacKintosh mentioned above. Of 
 these the three major ones were Farquharson, Shaw and Toshach. All the
 tribes together were known as the Cattenachs. This large group was once
 seen as a threat to both the Lordship of the Isles and to the King of 
 the Scots.

 * * * *
 From the Borders, Roxburghshire area. Norman in origin from De Chisolm.
 Seat is Erchless Castle, Strathglass.

 * * * * *
 A territorial name in origin from the area of the Parish of West 
 Kilpatrick, Dumbartonshire. The seat of the Chiefs is Rossdhu House,
 Luss, Dumbartonshire.

 * * * * 
 This family is Norman in origin and migrated from England. They
 received land from the Scottish King in Roxburghshire.

 * * * * *
 (See Chattan) A principal branch of Clan Chattan. Clan Dhai comes from
 David Dhu, fourth son of Muiriach, Chief of Clan Chattan. From David 
 Dhu comes the name Davidson or MacDhais. Territory was the Ross-shire,
 Inverness area.

 * * * * *
 A territorial from the lands of Drummond or Drymen in Stirlingshire.
 A Malcolm Beg of Strathearn is the first of the line on record. His son
 used the name Drummond or De Drymen. Chief's motto - 'gang warily'. 
 Their seat is at Strathallan.

 * * * *
 The Dunbar's of Moray were recognised as a Morayshire Clan in 1579.
 Chief's of the name Dunbar later resided at Mochrum Park in 

 * * * * 
 Taken from the Barony of Erskine in Renfrewshire. Seats at Migvie and
 Kildrummy Castle in Mar. A branch of Erskines also inherited the 
 Earldom of Buchan.

 * * * * * * *
 This Clan comes from Farquhar, fourth son of Alexander Ciar, the 3rd
 Shaw of Rothiemurchus. Shaw being a branch of Clan Chattan. They took
 up residence in Aberdeenshire. Farquharsons are also termed 'Clann 
 Fhionnlaigh' from Finlay Mor, grandson of Farquhar.
 Known Branches:Farquharson of Monaltrie, Whitehouse, Haughton, Allargue
                Breda and Finzean.

 * * * * *
 Of Scoto-Dalriadic descent, first settled in Kintyre, Argyll. Clann 
 Fhearghuis of Strachur has been established as coming from an ancient
 line. Held the estate of Glenshellich their seat being Caisteal Dubh
 on Bein Bheula.

 * * * *
 Tradition gives this Chief and Clan as coming from Ochonochar who slew
 a savage bear at the braes of Forbes, Aberdeenshire. Ochonochar settled
 in the territory won from the bear.

 * * * *
 Of Norman origin. Originally designated 'Frisell' or 'Frasell'. They
 were first heard of as supporters of Kelso Abbey and settled in 
 Tweedale. Several other petty Clans adopted the name Fraser in the
 district of Aird.

 * * * *
 A name taken from the Parish of Gordon in Berwickshire. The progenitors
 of the Clan were Anglo-Norman and settled in South Scotland around 
 the 12th Century. Their seat is Huntly Castle.

 * * * *
 Allegedly from 'Gramus' demolisher of a line of defense built by 
 Antonius betwixt Forth & Clyde! First authentic Grahams appeared in 
 1128 from 'De Graham' who obtained lands of Abercorn and Dalkeith in

 * * * *
 One of the principal branches of 'Siol Alpine' of which Clan Gregor is
 Chief. The Grants are said to derive their origin from Gregor MacGregor
 who lived in the 12th Century. Their territory is Strathspey where    
 there is a moor called Griantach or Sliabh-Griantais meaning 'Plain of
 the Sun' and may be the origin of the Clan name. The seat of Clan Grant
 is Castle Grant in Freuchie, Speyside. Craigellachie is the Clan 
 gathering place. Slogan - 'Stand Fast'

 Known Branches: Clan Allan, Clan Phadraig, Clan Donnachie, Clan Chiaran
                 and the parent stem - Freuchie.

 * * *
 Of Norse origin, descended from Guinn, second son of Olave, the Black 
 King of Man and the Isles who died in 1237. Ancient seats at Hallburg
 and Kilearnan. Said to be a warlike Clan of Caithness and Sutherland.

 * * * 
 Springs from 'Berowald' who in 1160 was given the Barony of Innes in 
 Moray which covers the lands from Spey to Lossie along the shore. The
 name means 'greens'.

 * * * *
 Also known as Lamond and once owned a large area of Cowal. This Clan 
 was founded by Ferchar about 1200. Ferchar had three sons, Murdoch,
 Malcolm and Duncan. Around 1238 we find Duncan son of Ferchar and 
 Lauman, son of Malcolm, son of Ferchar. Prior to this time the Clan was
 known as Chlann 'ic Fhearchair but assumed the name of 'Lauman' from 
 their ancestor. Their Seat of Toward was destroyed by the Campbells.

 * * * *
 From the Aberdeenshire area. They claim origin from a Hungarian 
 nobleman called Barthoff who married a Fifeshire heiress and in doing 
 so obtained land in the area.

 * * * *
 From the territory of Levenach which originally belonged to Celtic 
 Chiefs, the first being Alwin MacMuredach, MacMaldouen, Mormaer of
 Levenach. This Alwin had several sons, the 5th son was Aulay de Faslane
 whose descendant, Allan de Faslane became the Bailie of Lennox. 
 Gilchrist, the 7th son of Alwin, founded the clan MacFarlane.

 * * * * 
 Taken from a Norman, Baldric de Lindesay, the first recorded member of
 the Clan. Their territory is in the Braes of Angus.

 * * * * * *
 One of the principle branches of Clan Donald. Their descent is traced
 from Alexander, son of Angus Mor, son of Donald, founder of Clan Donald 
 and grandson of Somerled of Argyll. Their territory covers South 
 Knapdale in Kintyre and their ancient seat was at Ard Phadruig on the
 North of West Loch Tarbert.

 * * * * *
 Also known as MacAlpine. One of the chief branches of the  royal clan
 Alpin. Their seat is said to have been at Dunstaffnage in Argyll though
 they are now landless and without a recognised Chief.

 * * * * * *
 One of the old Clans of Argyll whose territory was on the shores of 
 Loch Awe. They claim descent from King Arthur and this particular Clan
 distinguished themselves from other named Arthur by the name 'Clann 
 Artair na tir a chladich' - 'Clan Arthur of the shore-land'.
 Slogan - Eisd! Eisd!

 * * * * *
 A minor branch of Clan Alpin. Their name appears in the Ragman Roll of
 1296 and paid tribute to the MacGregors. There are other, different
 MacAulays at Uig in SW Lewis who are followers of Clan MacLeod of Lewis
 with no connection to Clan Alpin. The Lewis MacAulays are descended 
 from Ollave or Olla, black brother of Magnus.

 * * * * 

 Also MACBAIN. Of ancient origin belonging to the province of Moray.
 MacBains of Badenoch were designated 'Chlann 'Ac al Bheath', the 
 lineage of MacBeth. Those of Inverness formed an important branch of
 Clan Chattan whilst those in Perthshire called themselves MacVean.

 * * * * * *
 Clan Donald. The founder was Somerled, son of Gillebride who expelled
 the Norwegians at the end of the 10th Century. There were three sons,
 Dugall, Ranald and Angus. Dugall held Mull, Coll, Tiree and Jura and 
 from him came Clan Dugall of Argyll and Lorn. Angus held part of Arran
 and Bute and Ranald held Islay, Kintyre and part of Arran. From Ranald
 came Donald, founder of Clan Donald or the MacDonald's of Islay and 
 Ruari, founder of Clan Ruari or MacRories of Bute. Their Chief was 
 designated Lord of the Isles.

 * * * * * *
 See above.

 * * * * 
 The kings of Fife claim descent from Conall Cerr, a son of Eochaid 
 Buidhe, King of the Picts. MacDuff, lord of Fife was said to have 
 vanquished MacBeth and restored Malcolm Ceann Mor as King. Their 
 ancient lands and castle stand on the southern shore of Fife.

 * * * * * *
 Their territory was at the head of Loch Lomond, between there and Loch
 Long. The seat of the chief was at Inverglas, later at Tarbert and then
 at Arrochar. They derived their name from the Chief Parlan or 
 Bartholomew. Also a sept of MacAllans or Allans.

 * * * *

 Also MacDuffie. A branch of Clan Alpin and the most ancient inhabitants
 of Colonsay. Connections, through descent, with the MacGregors and 
 MacKinnons. MacFie of Colonsay was also Hereditary keeper of the Records
 of the Isles during the times of the 'Lordship'.

 * * * * * * *
 A branch of Clan Chattan, their original home being in Morvern and 
 Lochaber. Along with many others, they appear to have come from the
 original stock of the 'Siol Cuinn'. Seat at Dun-ma-Glas in Strathnairn.

 * * * * * 
 The senior line of Clan Alpin claiming descent from Griogar, 3rd son of
 King Alpin who ascended the Celtic Scottish throne around 787. 
 Glenurchy was the original seat of the MacGregors although they once 
 held territories on Perthshire and Argyllshire. Unfortunately, the land
 was won by right of first occupation, they possessed no title deeds.
 The Campbells managed to acquire Crown charters for the MacGregor lands 
 and in doing so dispossessed the MacGregors.

 * * * * *
 There is little history on this Clan although it seems that, along with
 the MacGillivrays they were of the original Dalriads and kin to the

 * * * * * *
 The name is said to be derived from the Gaelic 'Toisach'. The 1st chief
 of MacKintosh was Shaw, 2nd son to Duncan. He was given many lands in 
 the north and commonly became called 'Mac-an-Toisich mhic Duibh' meaning
 'Thane MacDuff's son'. The ancient seat of the Chief of MacKintosh was
 on an island in Loch Moy.

 * * * * *

 A small but ancient Clan who seem to have been an offshoot from Clan 
 Donald. Traditionally in possession of lands near Bunawe in Lorn. 
 MacIntyre of Sorn in Ayrshire is said to be the only territorial branch
 of the Clan left in Scotland.

 * * * *
 They claim descent from the old Royal House of Moray although this is
 seen as being a junior line springing from Morgund  of Pluscarden. The 
 rise of the Clan took place around the beginning of the 13th Century.

 * * * * *
 Said to be descended from Gilleon Og, a younger son of Gilleon na Airde
 the ancestor of Anrias, progenitor of the O'Beolans, the old Earls of 
 Ross. Their territory certainly was in that area, the seat of the Chief
 became Brahan Castle in East Ross.

 * * * * *
 The Clan is a branch of Clan Alpin claiming descent from Fingon, 
 grandson of Gregor, son of Kenneth MacAlpin. Ancient lands held were
 many including parts of Mull, Skye, Arran, Tiree, Pabbay and Scalpa. 
 Their original territory was in the district of Gribun on the Island of
 Mull and Strathordell on the Isle of Skye.

 * * * * * *
 Along with the MacNeills and the MacEwans, the MacLachlans are said to
 be descended from an ancestor related to the progenitor of the 
 MacDonalds. Original seat seems to have been in Lochaber.

 * * * * *

 Descent is claimed from Loarn, son of Erc of the line of Dalriada. 
 Loarn is said to have given his name to the district of Lorn. Were
 once the Lords of Tiree, representatives of this line being the 
 MacLaurins of Dreghorn, Chiefs of the Clan. The name Lavernani or
 Laurnani is also associated with the MacLarens around the 11th Century.

 * * * *
 Tradition gives the Clan Gillean as coming from the neighbourhood of
 Scone. The ancestor of Clan Gillean is 'Gilleathain na Tuaidh' called
 Gillean of the Battle-axe. The MacLeans eventually divided into four 
 branch Clans which are:
                      MacLeans of Duart
                      MacLeans  of Ardgour
                      MacLeans of Coll
                      MacLeans  of Lochbuie
 Duart Castle became the seat of the Chiefs.

 * * * * *

 Also Logan. A small Clan who were standard bearers to the MacKenzies.
 Descended from Logan a Scottish priest, who like many of his time, 
 fathered several children. He was a devotee of St. Finnan and his 
 descendants were called Mac-Ghille Fhinnein, MacLennan from this.

 * * * *
 Many try to give the MacLeods a Celtic origin but it seems that they
 are Norse in origin. The two great branches of the Clan are Siol Tormod
 and Siol Torquil which seems to verify their Norse ancestry. The 
 progenitor of the Macleods is said to be Leod, son of Olave, brother of
 Magnus, the last King of Man. The seat of the Chief of Siol Tormod is
 Dunvegan castle in Skye.

 * * * * *
 From the Siol O'Cain, one of the tribes of the Mormaer of Moray who are
 said to be of the ancient tribe of the Kanteai, a subdivision of the 
 northern Picts. The principal territory of Clan MacMillan was around 
 Loch Tay. The MacMillans of Knapdale in Argyll were vassals of the 
 Lords of the Isles. In Gaelic a MacMillan is called Mac-Mhaoilean or
 Mac-Gille-Mhaoil, or the son of the tonsured one. 
 * * * *
 The MacNabs, Clann an Aba, derive from the hereditary Celtic Abbot of
 Glendochart in the reign of David I. The MacNabs supported the Clan
 MacDougall of Lorn against Robert the Bruce, hence when Bruce became
 the victor they lost a large slice of their lands. The last chief died
 in France in 1860. The family burying place lies on the island of Innis
 Buie, (River Dochart).
 * * * * * *
 Earliest references connect them with Strathtay and Argyllshire. The
 name Nectan is Pictish. Strongholds were "Fraoch Eilean" castle, Loch
 Awe, and the Castle of Dundarave on Loch Fyne. 
 * * * *
 Derives its descent through forty-five generations from Niall of the 
 Nine Hostages. Niall, 21st in descent, came to Barra in 1049 and 
 founded the Clan Niall in Scotland. The seat of the chief is the 
 island castle of Kismull, in Barra. After the forfeiture of the Lords 
 of the Isles in 1493, the MacNeills of Barra became allies of MacLean
 of Duart, whereas the MacNeills of Gigha followed the MacDonalds of
 Islay and Kintyre. The MacNeills were hereditary harpers, and pipers, to 
 the MacLeans of Duart.
 * * * * * *
 The name denotes 'son of the parson', from Duncan, Parson of Kingussie,
 1438, descended from Kenneth son of Ewen Ban, second son of Muriach,
 Chief of Clan Chattan 1173. The seat of the chief of the MacPhersons
 was at Cluny castle, near Kingussie. The oldest cadets are those of 
 Pitmain and of Invereshie (the Slioch Gillies). 
 * * * * * *
 This small clan possessed the little island of Ulva, to the west of
 Mull. They form one of the branches of Clan Alpin. According to 
 tradition they descended from Guarie, a brother of Fingon, who was 
 the ancestor of the MacKinnons. The MacGuires of Ireland are said to
 derive their descent from Gregor, second son of Cormac Mor, chief of
 the MacQuarries. 
 * * * *
 Come from the same stock as the MacDonalds, of the race of Conn. The
 MacQueens of Garafad in Skye held lands for many centuries. 
 * * *
 They occupied the position of a subordinate clan to the MacKenzies.
 Little is known of their early history. The MacRaes are said to have
 settled in Kintail in the fourteenth century. 
 * * * *
 Small Argyllshire clan, with territories in the Loch Awe district. 
 Traditionally said to be an offshoot of the MacGhilleChallums (or
 MacLeods) of Raasay. Dugald MacCallum of Poltalloch, 1779, was the
 first to adopt 'Malcolm' as the patronym. Malcolm of Poltalloch is the
 chief of Clan Malcolm. 
 * * * *
 Early history is obscure. The country of the clan appears to have been
 in the district of Lochalsh. Some say originated from MacKenzies, 
 others say they are of Norse origin. 
 * * * *
 Though the clan is descended from a Gaelic speaking race, the chiefs
 are of Lowland origin. The clan appears to have settled in Atholl 
 from early times.
 * * * * *
 The Chlann Mhic-Gille-Mhoire are said to be Scandinavian. Tradition
 says their founder was the son of the king of Norway, who along with
 his wife and child was cast ashore on the island of Lewis. The Clan's
 badge is therefore 'sgoid cladach' or driftwood. Morrison of Habost
 attained the position of hereditary brieve, or judge. The clan were
 also known as Chlann na Breitheamh. They held this hereditary position
 until 1613. The Morrisons formed colonies in the north of Scotland.
 The Morgans of Wales and the MacNamaras of Ireland are supposedly
 related to the Morrisons, being of the Morganaich (sons of the sea).

 * * *
 They were anciently vassals of the Earls of Ross. Their chief seat is
 at Foulis. Origin is from the Siol o' Cain of North Moray. The first
 chief, Hugh, lived in the twelfth century. 
 * * *
 The ancestor of this powerful family was Freskin de Moravia, who 
 acquired the lands of Strabrock in West Lothian, and held Duffus in
 Moray. It is from Freskin's grandson William that the Dukes of Atholl
 are descended.
 * * * *
 The Gaelic name is 'MacNeacail'. The Nicolsons held the lands of
 Scorrybreac, in Skye. MacNicol of Portree was one of the sixteen men
 of the Council of the Isles. Local tradition says that over one
 hundred chiefs of the clan were borne to their last resting place at
 Snizort Churchyard. 
 * * * *
 The chiefs of this clan derive their name from GilleBride, second son
 of Ghillechriost, Earl of Angus. The Barony of Ogilvie, in the parish
 of Glamis, in Angus, was bestowed on this GilleBride by King William
 the Lion about 1163. 
 * * * * *
 The Robertsons, or Clan Donnachie, are derived from the old Earls of
 Atholl. The chief, who gave the clan the patronymic of Donnachie, 
 appears to have been Donnchadh or Duncan Reamhar, who led the clan at
 the battle of Bannockburn. From a later chief, Robert, who lived in
 the reign of James I, the clan took its name. Duncan Reamhar left two
 sons, Robert, ancestor of the Robertsons of Struan, chiefs of the clan,
 and Patrick, of the Robertsons of Lude. Besides Struan, the chiefs had
 at one time wide possessions on the banks of Loch Tay and of Loch 
 Rannoch. The ancient residence of the clan Donnachie was at Dun 
 Alister, at the east end of Loch Rannoch. 
 * * *
 Before the forfeiture of the Lordship of the Isles, this small 
 Nairnshire clan were vassals of the old Earls of Ross. The family of
 Rose of Kilravock, chief of the clan, settled in the county of Nairn
 in the reign of David I, but their first designation was "of Geddes".
 Bonds of friendship and loyalty were given to their powerful 
 neighbours the MacKintoshes. The seat of the chief is still the Castle
 of Kilravock (their residence since 1460). 
 * * *
 The progenitor of the old Earls of Ross was the eldest son of Gilleon
 na h-airde, the ancestor of Anrias, who was the progenitor of the 
 O'Beolans or Gillanders, the old Celtic Earls of Ross. The first of the
 O'Beolan Earls was Fearcher MacinTagart, grandson of Gillianrias, and
 son of the 'sagart', or hereditary abbot at the monastery of Applecross
 founded by St. Maelrubha in the seventh century.
 * * * * *
 The founder was Sir William Saint-Clair, son of Robert de Saint-Clair
 in Normandy. In 1455 they got granted from the Scottish crown the
 Earldom of Caithness. This line came to end with the death of George
 the sixth Earl in 1676, after which the title was usurped by the 
 Campbells. A fierce battle took place between the Sinclairs and the
 Campbells which was fought at Allt nam meirleach, near Wick. Although 
 Sinclair was defeated, he eventually won back his claims by other means.  
 The Sinclairs of Roslin were long hereditary Master Masons of Scotland.
 * * *
 The progenitor is said to be a younger son of Robertson of Struan. The
 arms bear wolves' heads. For service to one of the early kings, 
 Malcolm Canmore the young Robertson was given the lands and lake of
 Skene in the Forest of Stocket, Aberdeenshire. The king offered 
 Robertson the choice of two things - as much land as was encompassed
 by a hound's chase, or what could be covered by a hawk's flight.
 Robertson chose the latter. The Gaelic name is Siol Sgeine, no Clann
 Donnachaidh Mhar (Clan Robertson of Mar). The family of Skene of Skene
 became extinct in the direct line in 1827.
 * * * *
 A royal clan which sprang from a scion of the ancient hereditary 
 Stewards of Dol, in Normandy. Of this family Alan Fitz Flaald obtained
 from Henry I. of England the Barony of Oswestry. His son William was
 the progenitor of the Earls of Arundel. Simon the youngest son of Alan
 became the progenitor of the Boyds, his son Robert having been
 designated Buidhe from his yellow hair. The Clan Stewart held many
 lands, too numerous to mention here, and the history of this clan is
 linked very largely with the wider history of Scotland.
 * * * * * *
 This county was long overrun by the Norsemen, and is a corruption of
 the Norse Sudrland. The Highlanders call it Cataibh. Lord Caithness
 is called Morair Chataibh (the Lord of Cataibh). The crest of the 
 Sutherland family is a 'cat-a-mountain'. Some say the original Celts
 of that country were driven out by the Scandinavian invaders, and
 that the Gaelic speaking population is derived from immigrants from
 Ross and Moray. Another account says the Celts of Sutherland retreated
 from the Norsemen into the mountains and inaccessible areas. The chiefs
 of the clan are descended from Freskin, the progenitors of the Murrays.
 * * * * *
 Though small, this is a very ancient clan. The castle of Urquhart is
 on the north side of Loch Ness, and was a place of great strength. 
 There are records of their chiefs from the year 1306. For about 50
 years the Urquharts, as vassals of the Earldom of Ross, were connected
 with the Lordship of the isles. The direct line of the Urquharts ended
 in 1741. There are parishes of the name of Urquhart in Inverness-shire,
 Ross-shire and Morayshire.    

--Kopuru 01:39, 19 April 2007 (MDT)