Map_Highland_Clans2 (254K)
The information on this page is intended as a quick overview of each clan the family has connections with.

For more details visit the following websites (note that the information on this site is drawn from some of these sites):

Davidson
Gaelic Name MacDhaibhidh
Origin of Name Gaelic Daibhidh (David)
Crest
Motto Sapienter si sincere, (Wisely if sincerely)
Badge Red whortleberry
Lands
Pipe Music Tulloch Castle
Origin of Tartan

History

Tartan

Crest

Clan Map

Before the 1300s the most powerful family Scotland had ever known were the Comyns, dominating the Grampians, Buchan and Moray. It was prudent for many families to associate themselves with the Comyns for protection and prosperity.

With their policies of pure self-interest they were the enemy of Robert the Bruce and in 1306 John, the ‘Red Comyn’, was slain by Bruce ‘at the altar rails’ in Dumfries. Bruce destroyed the family completely by 1308. This left many families without protective association.

Donald Dubh of Invernahaven, having married the daughter of the sixth chief of the MacKintoshes, took his family, the Clan Dhai, as the Davidsons were then known, into association with the MacKintoshes when William was their seventh chief. Dhai was the Gaelic name the family had inherited from their first leader David Dubh.

The MacKintoshes were part of the Clan Chattan confederation and so too became the Davidsons. There were jealousies within the confederation because of favouritism shown to the MacKintoshes by the Captain of Clan Chattan and the Davidsons invariably found themselves called into fights by numerous peers.

In the end the association the family entered, far from benefiting them, almost brought about their extinction.

When several branches of Clan Chattan grouped to fight the Camerons in 1370, the MacPhersons, because of an on-going dispute with the Davidsons, withdrew from the fight while in sight of the enemy, and the Camerons defeated those who stayed. The Davidsons suffered badly in the battle.

In 1396 the Davidsons and MacPhersons fought side by side at the clan battle on the North Inch of Perth. When the combat was over there were only eleven enemy alive and only one Davidson.

The strongest lines of the family became the Davidsons of Tulloch, in Ross-shire, and the Davidsons of Cantray, in Inverness. Tulloch Castle was built in 1466 and a branch of this family can be found in France, where the Livre d’Or shows six generations of nobility before 1629

Also see the Davidson clan history at Electric Scotland.

Dunbar
Gaelic Name
Origin of Name
Crest
Motto In Promptu ( In readiness)
Badge
Lands
Pipe Music
Origin of Tartan A Border tartan from the"Vestiarium Scoticum"

History

Tartan

Crest

Clan Map

Born around 975, Crinan of Dunkeld was the Thane and Seneschal of the Isles. He was the father of King Duncan I, and grandfather of Gospatric. Gospatric was given the Earldom of Northumberland in 1067 by the recently arrived William the Conqueror.

In 1072 however, the Earldom was taken back from him. So Gospatric came to Scotland and was made Earl of Dunbar by King Malcolm III. The town and port of Dunbar, on the Lothian coast, has been the scene of many important events in the history of Scotland. The Dunbars were not supporters of Robert the Bruce or a Scottish crown and after the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 they sheltered the fleeing, defeated Edward II at Dunbar Castle until he could leave Scotland by sea.

It is believed that if Patrick of Dunbar had detained Edward then he would have had to recognise the Scottish crown and make peace with Bruce. Instead the two countries fought on for many more bloody years.

In 1315, Dunbar and King Robert, who were cousins, settled their differences and when the English occupied the lands of Berwick in 1337, where Dunbar was governor, he renounced any allegiance to Edward III.

Dunbar Castle was then attacked by the Earl of Salisbury. The castle was defended by Dunbar’s wife, Black Agnes, who exasperated Salisbury until, after nineteen weeks, he retired to England in failure.

He wrote of her:-

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.

When the greedy and jealous James I ruled, the huge wealth and properties that the Dunbars had collected for over four hundred years was annexed to the crown.

The 11th Earl, Sir George Dunbar of Kilconquhar, was the last. The Dunbar house had expanded by this time to include the Earlship of Moray, which they retained. In 1990 the present claim to the chiefship was settled only after a celebrated court case which was heard first before the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, then the Supreme Court of Edinburgh, then the House of Lords.

Also see the Dunbar clan history at Electric Scotland.

Grant
Gaelic Name Grannd
Origin of Name French, grand (great)
Crest
Motto Craig Elachie (The rock of alarm)
Badge Pine
Lands Strathspey, Glen Urquhart, Glen Moriston and Loch Ness
Pipe Music Stand fast Craigellachie
Origin of Tartan

History

Tartan

Crest

Clan Map

After the Normans had established themselves in England, the name Grant became widespread, appearing in many documents from various areas, which are with us today. In the French and Gaelic languages, the word has the similar meanings of big and more.

The earliest recordings of Grants in Scotland, however, are from the mid-thirteenth century, and describe the acquisition of Stratherrick land through the marriage of a Grant to Sir John Bisset’s daughter Mary. One of their two children was Sir Laurence le Grand, who became the Sheriff of Inverness.

The family supported Robert the Bruce towards his acquisition of the Scottish crown.

At the Battle of Dunbar in 1296, both Randolph and John de Grant were overcome and imprisoned for a time.

The family continued to acquire lands in Glen Urquhart and Glenmoriston, and with Bruce’s victory came rewards and endorsement of Strathspey property such that the Grants were soon to develop into a key power in the Highlands.

Marriage brought yet more power for the Grants when Sir John Grant married Maud, the daughter of Gilbert of Glencairnie. Maud was heiress of the cadet branch of the ancient Celtic Stathearn dynasty, an Earldom older than written records. Their eldest son was the first of the Grants of Freuchie, while a younger son was the progenitor of the Tullochgorm branch

The Grants consistently supported Royalty. James V rewarded their support by granting James Grant of Freuchie, known as James the Bold, with a charter placing him outwith the authority of all royal courts except the Supreme Court of Edinburgh.

Ludovick Grant, 8th Earl of Freuchie, supported William of Orange, and in 1694 his barony of Freuchie was raised to a regality, effectively giving him the power of a king in his own Highland kingdom.

In the years of the Jacobite risings, again all but a few of the Grants were on the side of the Royalists.

The family reaches out into many branches today. The Grants of Rothiemurchus are one of the principal branches and are landowners around Aviemore.

Also see the Grant clan history at Electric Scotland.

Innes
Gaelic Name MacAonghuis
Origin of Name Placename, Morayshire
Crest
Motto Be traist (Be faithfull)
Badge Great bulrush
Lands Morayshire
Pipe Music
Origin of Tartan

History

Tartan

Crest

Clan Map

Innes was a barony consisting of all the land along the shore between the River Lossie and the River Spey in Morayshire. A charter for these lands was given to Berowald, described as Flandrensis, by Malcolm IV in 1154. Berowald’s grandson, Sir Walter, took Innes as his name and the charter was confirmed by Alexander II in 1226.

In the 1300s, Sir Robert, 9th of that ilk, married and added to the family estate the thane of Aberchirder. Their son, Sir Walter, ruled the family for fifty-six years till his death in 1454.

Numerous branches had, by this time, successfully reached out all over Northern Scotland, and between the years 1493 and 1533, Alexander, 18th of Innes, had amassed six charters to a considerable amount of land. He was murdered by the 3rd Laird of Invermarkie over a romantic dispute and a terrible feud between the two families ensued.

The Scottish Privy Council recognised the Innes family as a clan in 1579.

The 20th Chief, Sir Robert, became the first Baronet in 1625 and was a supporter of Charles II.

The 19th Baron was a known practitioner of witchcraft.

In 1767, the 6th Baronet, Sir James, sold the Innes lands to the Earl of Fife and settled in England. Because of the hysteria of the Reformation, many of the mediaeval records of Scotland were smuggled to France for safety. An Innes, Father Lewis, became the Principal of the Scots College in Paris, to where many of the precious documents were taken. With the help of his brother Thomas, the papers were arranged, collated and preserved, they also wrote 'The Life of James II'.Despite his exile, Lewis held the position of Secretary of State for Scotland in 1690. The recovery and protection of Scotland’s historical papers was continued by Cosmo Innes, Sheriff of Moray in 1840, who became a Professor of Edinburgh University.

The brothers’ invaluable work is acknowledged today in The Innes Review.

Also see the Innes clan history at Electric Scotland.

MacKay
Gaelic Name MacAoidh
Origin of Name Gaelic, MacAoidh (Son of fire)
Crest A dexter arm couped at the elbow the hand grasping a dagger all Proper
Motto Manu forti (With a strong hand)
Badge Bulrush
Lands Ross and Sutherland, Argyll
Pipe Music Bratach Bhan Chlann Aoidh (The White Banner of MacKay)
Origin of Tartan

History

Tartan

Crest

Clan Map

The name MacKay takes its origins from the gaelic "Macaoidh" or "son of Hugh". The identity of this Hugh is uncertain but the name probably derives from a member of the ancient Celtic royal house, whose branches disputed the throne in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

The MacKays also have strong links with the progeny of Queen Gruoch, who was married to MacBeth.

By the fourteenth century, the clan MacKay was well established in the most northerly and remote area of Scotland - their land extending from Cape Wrath along the north coast to Caithness. This land was known as Strathnaver.

The MacKay clan were both numerous and powerful and theirs is a history of continual strife with their neighbours. After five centuries of dispute, they finally lost their lands to the Sutherlands in the nineteenth century. The importance of the clan at this time is best illustrated by the marriage of Angus Dubh MacKay with the grand-daughter of Robert II, and important political alliance.

The warlike reputation of the clan is echoed in the family motto, "with a strong hand".

The military tradition of the family continued with 3000 MacKay clansmen fighting in the 30 Years War, and also providing a fighting force alongside William of Orange.

During the nineteenth century, the clan MacKay suffered greatly as a result of the Highland clearances, and by 1875 the direct line of the clan had died out, with the entire MacKay country being in the hands of the Lords of Sutherland.

Also see the MacKay clan history at Electric Scotland.

Matheson
Gaelic Name MacMhathain
Origin of Name Bear's son
Crest Issuant from an antique crown a hand brandishing a scimitar fessways Proper
Motto Fac et spera (Do and hope)
Badge Broom
Lands Lochalsh, Sutherland
Pipe Music
Origin of Tartan

History

Tartan

Crest

Clan Map

The name Matheson has been attributed to the gaelic 'Mic Mhathghamhuin' meaning 'son of the bear' or alternatively 'son of the heroes'. Traditionally, the clan descends from a twelfth century Gilleoin, who is thought to have been a scion of the ancient royal house of Lorne.

The Mathesons settled around Lochalsh, Lochcarron and Kintail and gave their allegiance to the MacDonalds as the Lords of the Isles. The Matheson clansmen fought for Donald, Lord of the Isles at the Battle of Harlaw. At that time, with a force of around 2000 men, the clan Matheson was considered as powerful as the more famous MacKenzies.

As the power of the Lords of the Isles waned, the Matheson clan found themselves squeezed between their powerful neighbours, the MacLeods of Lewis to the west, and the MacKenzies of the mainland to their east. They gave their allegiance to the MacKenzies, with Iain Dubh Matheson, the clan chief, dying in the defence of Eilean Donan Castle for the MacKenzies in 1539.

Not all the Mathesons were known for their warlike pursuits - Dougal mac Ruadhri Matheson established the name in both the organisation of church and state. He was Prior of Beauly from 1498 to 1514, and also sat in parliament when Ross was erected a separate sheriffdom.

Many Matheson families suffered great hardship in the Kildonan clearances. It is probably from these Sutherland evictions that Sir James Matheson left Scotland, and eventually founded his commercial empire, the well-known trading house of Jardine Matheson in the Far East.

Also see the Matheson clan history at Electric Scotland.

Munro
Gaelic Name Mac an Rothaich
Origin of Name Gaelic, Mac an Rothaich (Man from Ro)
Crest An eagle perching Proper
Motto Dread God
Badge Common club moss
Lands Easter Ross
Pipe Music Bealach na Broige
Origin of Tartan

History

Tartan

Crest

Clan Map

The lands of the clan Munro lie on the north side of the Cromarty Firth. Known as Ferindonald from the gaelic 'Fearainn Domhnuill' or Donald's Land, this is probably a reference to the traditional founder of the clan.

The Munro clan were never known as an unduly combative family, but rather made their mark in other fields. They made a significant early contribution to Scottish traditional arts in the fifteenth century with what is probably the earliest piece of pipe music written for the Pibroch. This piece, entitled 'Blar bealach nam brog' has been attributed to one of the early Munro family.

Unlike the MacCrimmons or MacKays though, the family made little more impact in the field of the arts, but rather became known for their prominence in the Scottish clergy. The most notable Munro clergyman was the Rev. Alexander Munro, whose parish was at Cape Wrath on the very north-west tip of Scotland. He was not alone in the family in his choice of profession however, as the Munros boasted two other ministers enrolled as Justices of the Peace in Sutherland, and two in Caithness at this time.

Although in general a peaceable clan, the Munros did actively engage in continental warfare in the seventeenth century. The eighteenth chief of the clan raised a force of some 700 clansmen to join the army of Gustavus Adolphus in Sweden, where the clansmen became known as "the Invincibles".

Another notable soldier of the family was Robert Munro, who published an account of his fortunes with the MacKay regiment in the Thirty Years War. However, the most prestigious position in foreign affairs was achieved when a son of the Munro family became President of the United States of America in the nineteenth century.

Also see the Munro clan history at Electric Scotland.

Murray
Gaelic Name MacMhuirich
Origin of Name Placename, Morayshire
Crest
Motto Furth fortune and fill the fetters
Badge Butcher's broom
Lands Morayshire
Pipe Music
Origin of Tartan

History

Tartan

Crest

Clan Map

The Murray family is descended from Freskin, who is thought to be a Flemish knight who flourished in the 12th century. Granted lands in West Lothian by David I, he and his sons intermarried with the house of Moray to consolidate their power.

The descendants of this family were designated "de Moravia", which in Lowland Scots became "Murray".

Bothwell Castle, one of the most powerful and visually striking strongholds in Scotland was built by the Murrays and remained the seat of the chief until 1360. In 1297 Sir Andrew Murray took up the cause of Scottish Independence and, with Sir William Wallace, rose against Edward of England. After this, the Murray family multiplied throughout Scotland and many branches of the name Murray disputed the right to the chieftainship.

In 1360 the lordship and the great house of Bothwell was lost by the Murrays and passed into the hands of the Douglas family, and it was not until the 16th century that the Murrays of Tullibardine are recorded once again.

Also see the Murray clan history at Electric Scotland.

Ross
Gaelic Name Rôs
Origin of Name Placename, Ross-shire
Crest A hand holding a garland of juniper Proper
Motto Spem successus alit (Success nourishes hope)
Badge Juniper
Lands Ross-shire, Ayrshire and Renfrewshire
Pipe Music The Earl of Ross's March
Origin of Tartan

History

Tartan

Crest

Clan Map

The name Ross derives from the ancient Celtic word "Ros", meaning "a promontory", in this case the lands of Easter Ross. The clan is known to Highlanders as Clann Aindreas - the sons of Andrew.

The traditional progenitor of the clan was Fearchar Mac an t Sagairt which is translated as "son of the priest". Fearchar was created Earl of Ross in 1234, for services to Alexander II.

The last chief of the clan Ross to hold the earldom died in 1372, having fathered no sons. His daughter tried to claim the earldom, but it passed to the MacDonalds of the Isles and subsequently into the hands of the crown in 1476. The once proud Ross estate of Balnagowan became heavily burdened by debt in the 18th century and it was purchased by a lowland branch of the Ross family who, although bearing the family name, were genealogically complete strangers to the Celtic Earls of Ross.

In the early 20th century the chiefship of the clan Ross was restored to the true line.

Also see the Ross clan history at Electric Scotland.

Taylor
Gaelic Name
Origin of Name French 'tailler' - to cut.
Crest
Motto In cruce salus" (Salvation from the Cross)
Badge
Lands Widespread
Pipe Music
Tartan
From the French word "tailler" which means "to cut", a tailor was originally a cutter of cloth. As such, the name came into use early in Scotland's history - Alexander le Taillur was a valet to King Alexander III in the last quarter of the 13th century. There were six landowners with the name Taylor who were of sufficient stature to be required to sign the "Ragman Roll" of King Edward in August 1296. Their lands ranged in places across Southern and Central Scotland such as Roxburghshire in the Borders, Edinburgh and Lanark, to as far north as the county of Angus.

In the early days, the name was often rendered in the Latin form "cissor" (from which the English word scissor is derived) and around 1137, Walter Cissor was granted land by King David II and William Cissor held a tenement in Edinburgh in 1392. Scissor and Cissor were recorded in Inverness and Perth in the 15th century. But, unlike the name Taylor which became prolific, the Cissor variant died out - possibly with some of the holders changing to Taylor.

The name spread into the Gaelic-speaking Highlands and became Macantaillear and Macintaylor but did not become widespread. However, "Taillear dubh na tuaighe" (Black Taylor of the battle-axe) was a legendary follower of Cameron of Lochiel. A number of Macintaileours were fined for providing shelter to members of the outlawed clan Macgregor in 1613.

James Taylor was involved with William Symington in building the first practical steam-powered ship in 1788. It sailed on Dalswinton Loch and a second vessel, powered by a larger engine, plied the Forth and Clyde canal.

In the first half of the 19th century, Dr John Taylor championed causes of political liberty including the movement for Greek independence from Turkey. At a time when trade unions were frowned on, he became the editor of "Liberator" which advocated the extension of voting rights, by revolution or republicanism if necessary. He was regarded as an extremist in his day, fighting for measures which we take for granted now.

Also see the Taylor clan history at Electric Scotland.

Tennant
Gaelic Name na
Origin of Name Family name
Crest na
Motto na
Badge na
Lands Lowlands
Pipe Music
The earliest reference to this name is William, tenant of Crestone in the county of Linlescu, in the Ragman Rolls of 1296. His seal bears the symbol of a large dog.

In 1309 Thomas Tenaunt was one of the witnesses in the enquiry involving the Templars and in 1339 John Tenant is mentioned as being one of the garrison of Edinburgh Castle. John Tennand was among the burgesses of Stirling who attacked the cruives (fish-traps) and fishings of the abbot and convent of Cambuskenneth in 1366. Lord Glenconner derives from the family of Tennant of the "Glen" in Ayrshire.

John Tennant of Glenconner (1726-1810) was a friend of the poet Robert Burns (1759-96). In 1885 Charles Tennant (1823-1906) was created a baronet. His oldest son, Sir Edward Tennant (1859-1920), Lord Lieutenant of Peebles 1908-20, was made 1st Lord of Glenconner in 1911.

In 1776 John and Robert Tennent founded the famous public brewery which still bears their names.

The Tennants are essentially a Lowland family who do not possess a chief, nor do they have a crest, motto, war cry or plant badge. No Arms have been recorded in the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh. There is however a Tennant tartan which appears to have been designed by the father of Captain Ian Tennant, Innes House, Elgin, around 1930 which is believed to have been adapted from the Hunting MacDuff. There are no objections to anyone bearing the name Tennant or Tenant wearing this tartan.