Wow, we certainly have a lot of readers with Scottish roots! Remember to look back at part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5 of this little series to make sure you’re not missing any of the history goodness! Let’s dive right in and see what there is to learn about some of your own, personal, clans…
- Clan Motto: Generositate- By generosity
- This lowland clan came from the Norse raiders, but there are two different lines it could have originated from, although both versions were seen as early as the 800s. The name may have come from the common name “Olson” with the added “Nic”, which in Scottish Gaelic means “Daughter”, and was seen throughout the middle ages. But it also might have come to pass during the Scottish-Norwegian War in the early 1200s, when Hakkon IV of Norway sent Anders Nicolassen into Scotland, where he stayed.
- While this cannot be verified, it is thought that before being the Nicolsons, they were members of Clan MacNeacail.
- Clan Motto: Sto pro veritate- I stand for the truth
- There’s no exact story of where this ancient Scottish name came from, but one of the more popular legend is that in the 800s-900s the Scottish king named a certain piece of land “Guthrie” after a poor fisherman “gut three” fish and served them for the king’s supper.
- Being an old family gave the Guthries a certain level of respect. Like during the Scottish War of Independence, the Laird of Guthrie was sent to bring William Wallace to Scotland, sparking more support for the side of Scottish independence.
- They were very close to the royal family throughout history, and were often given royal pardons when they wronged a rival clan. They were also often given titles, land, and certain privileges. However, that mostly ended when some of the Guthries began to take arms against the Scottish government, particularly the king, when they began to devote themselves to the Covenanter belief system in the 1630s.
- Guthrie Castle was built in the mid 1400s, with various additions being added on through history. It remained in the Gustrie family until 1983. But, now it’s a lovely golf course and event area where you can even get married!
- Clan Motto: Fortitudine- strength
- War Cry: Sgurr uaran- refers to the highest part of the mountain range within the Clan Macrae lands.
- This is an armegerous clan and the name comes from Macraith, which means “son of grace”. It is said that the clan came from Ireland and shares a common lineage with the Mackenzies and the MacLeans. However, that is under dispute.
- They participated in the Jacobite Rebellion in 1715 and it went terribly. Like, everyone died, even their strongest warrior, a man named Duncan Macrae, whose claymore was taken by the English and displayed in the Tower of London for a number of years. However, the sword has been missing for years and it is thought it was lost in the fire of 1841. It is because of their failure in 1715 that they opted out of the rebellion in 1745.
- At one point, their main clan rivals were the Frasers of Lovat!
- Clan Motto: I Byd It- I Endure
- Clan War Cry- A Nesbitt!
(It’s iffy what the actual Nesbitt tartan is, or if there even is one, but this one is recognized as largely being theirs. If you are a Nesbitt and know for sure what your tartan is, please let me know!)
- This Scottish border clan was originally titled “de Nesbit”, as seen in historic documents from the 11 and 1200s. They were also close to the royals from the time of Robert the Bruce and enjoyed favor from time to time.
- One of the most famous clan members was Alexander Nisbet. Nisbet was known as the expert on all things historic and herald. He is still regarded as the expert on Clan Nesbitt and many of his writings are still seen as valid today.
- By the 17th century, the Nesbitt clan were largely royalists, and in full support of England.
The Buchanan Clan
- Clan Motto: Clarior hinc honos- Henceforth forward the honour shall grow ever brighter
- War Cry: Clar Innes!- Refers to an island in Loch Lomond
- This armigerous clan comes from the Loch Lomond area and gets their name from the parcel of land, which were given to Gilbert Buchanan in 1231. However, some members claim heraldry from ancient Irish kings, although that is widely accepted as myth.
- From the time of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, the Buchanans have been supporters of the Scottish crown, and due to their allegiance in battle, were often awarded more lands and titles.
- But the Buchanans didn’t just fight the British. In the 15th century, they were in many skirmishes with other clans. Particularly the MacLarens and Mackenzies. It is said that, more often than not, the Buchanans initiated these fights, battles, and sometimes executions.
- The clan, as a whole, didn’t participate in any of the Jacobite uprisings. However, there were several members of the clan that actively supported the Stuart cause in 1745/46.
- They have a rich history and numerous active members in dozens of national and international organizations that promote their particular history. If you’re a part of this clan, I suggest doing some looking into it!
The Dalrymple Clan
- Clan Motto: Firm
- This lowland armigerous Scottish clan is so small, most describe it as just a family, but it is recognized as a registered clan.
- Most of history only remembers the Dalrymple name due to the act of one man, the Lord Advocate John Dalrymple. in 1603 the Union of the Crown, where King James VI took charge of both England and Scotland. However, many clans still favored the Stewart blood line and that caused years of unrest. In 1691 King William III planned to pardon all the clans, if they pledged their allegiance to him by January 1, 1692. Some clans waited for the deposed Stewart king to give his permission before making the pledge and the MacDonalds of Glencoe ended up missing the deadline. While King William wasn’t too stressed, John Dalrymple wasn’t one to wait, although he himself was Scottish. He sent troops of redcoats to the Glencoe lands, where they pretended to want hospitality. Then they slaughtered a large number of unsuspecting MacDonald men, burned their homes, and caused the death of many women and children.
- Clan Motto: Unite
- No one quite knows where Clan Brodie came from, but it is widely accepted that they descended from the ancient Picts. The name is so old, it’s still under debate where the name comes from, what it may mean, and even what language it originated from.
- They were allies of Clan Mackenzie and they were staunch supporters of the Scottish crown. The English saw the Brodies as such a threat, Oliver Cromwell actively tried bribing and wooing Lord Bordie of Brodie to join their fight. But in 1650, Brodie told Oliver where to stick it and joined a party to fetch Scottish King Charlies II back to his throne.
- In the mid 1600s, one chief, Alexander, was a real witch hater. At least two are on record as having been burned executed on his order.
- Their traditional seat, Brodie Castle, was pillaged and overrun several times throughout history, but it has since been rebuilt…and it’s amazing. You can even get married there!
- Clan Motto: Ne Parcas nec Spernas – Neither despise nor fear
- This clan is super ancient and hails from the old Irish prince Ánrothán Ua Néill, who lived in the 500s.
- During the Wars of Scottish Independence, the Lamonts supported the MacDougall’s claim to the throne against Robert the Bruce. At the time, they ruled a large piece of land in the highlands. But after Robert won the war, he punished the Lamonts and gave parts of their lands to the Campbells. If that wasn’t bad enough for the clan, in 1646 the Campbells decided they wanted more and took a good portion, forcing the Lamonts into a tiny corner.
- Because the Campbells had the Lamonts boxed in and cut off from the world, they did not participate in any of the Jacobite rebellions, which ended up being a blessing in disguise, since they were spared afterward.
- Clan Motto: Over fork over
- This is an old name, first being noted in the 6th century as “Canowan” but it was changed to the modern Cunningham in 1059. They gained most of their lands through grants from Scottish kings by fighting off Norse invaders.
- They also supported the English claim to Scotland until Robert the Bruce came along and wooed them over his side. However, that didn’t last long, as by the time of the Wars of Scottish Independence, they were were back on the side of the British. They were even involved in the later Battle of Culloden. Captain Cunningham’s Company shot Grapshot at the Jacobites.
- Clan Motto: Per ardua – Through adversity
- Clan War Cry: Cruachan! (the name of a mountain in their lands)
- They get their name from a trade, as do many, and theirs means. It comes from the Gaelic “Mac an t-Saoir”, which means “son of the carpenter”. It’s said that the McIntyres are descended from a man named Maurice MacNeil, a carpenter and shipwright who saved the ship, and life, of the King of the Isles (the Hebrides and the Isle of Man) Olaf the Red during a raid on the Isle of Skye. Fun, right?
- This clan was known for being great bagpipers and foresters. They often joined the MacDonalds, Menzies, and Campbells in battle as their official pipers and enjoyed a very close relationship to the Campbells throughout their history.
- When the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 came, the McIntryes were asked to not participate by their allies the Campbells. So, as an official body, they didn’t fight for either side. However, a large enough number joined the Stewart cause that they caught the attention of historians and generally being Jacobites.
The Irvine Clan
- Clan Motto: Sub sole sub umbra virens- Flourishing in sunlight and shade
- This clan comes from the High Kings of Ireland and gets their name from the Irvine lands. They really began to rise in rank and power after really helped their neighbors, Clan Bruce, put Robert on the throne. Good call for them, since they began raking in the land. I mean, at one point, William Irvine followed Robert into hiding, literally hiding in bushes from the soldiers searching for the Scottish throne claimant. And Robert the Bruce isn’t one to forget a friend, so he even gave the Irvines the clan badge with three holly bushes to remember all the good times they had together.
- They were basically always on the side of the Scottish crown in all wars. They even helped ransom King James I from the English and participated heavily in the Battle of Culloden as Jacobites.
- If there was one thing the Irvines hated more than a British guy coming in and telling them what to do, it was a member of Clan Keith. The two clans were constantly warring with each other, even when a Scottish king would tell them to knock off the fighting or he was turning the country around and no one would get dessert. You know when they did finally declare an official end to their feud? 2002. Only, like, 600 years since they first decided they hated each other. Talk about commitment.
- Their family seat, Castle Drum, is beautiful, and also available for special events!
- Clan Motto: Dread God
- Clan War Cry: Caisteal Folais ‘na Theine! – Castle Foulis in Flames! (Castle Floulis is their family home)
- The Munros are of Irish stock, hailing from a line of Irish chiefs in the 1000s. Their name translates into something akin to “Man from Ro”, referring to an area in Ireland surrounding the River Roe. They got their lands from the Scottish king for their victory against Norse invaders. That began their close relationship to the crown.
- They were also known as a war clan, almost always participating in battles. This military way of living made them formidable enemies and often ensured they were on the winning side. Along with the Frasers, they even helped Mary Queen of Scots take Inverness Castle, which was thought to be impossible.
- But the Munros weren’t Jacobites. in 1715, they fought for the British, which pissed the Jacobite Mackenzies off. The Mackenzies invaded the Munro lands, who then invaded their in retaliation. in the 1745 rebellion, the highlands generally hoped the Munros would join the Jacobite cause, but they stayed with the English.
- Shout out to Hugh Munro, the bringer of dragonflies in amber and super spy extraordinaire!
- Clan Motto: Oblier ne puis – I cannot forget
- The Colvilles come from ancient Norman stock, hailing from the Colville lands in Normandy. In the 1170s, a Colville was granted some land in the southern area of Scotland by William the Lion, who was then the king of Scotland.
- They were a small clan that followed nobles, no matter the crown. They can be seen through history serving both the Scottish and British kings. But they usually placed their allegiance to the British crown, and retained their titles and lands because of it.
- Clan Motto: I saved the king
- This clan has a fun name origin story. One tale says that during the Scottish Wars of Independence, Robert the Bruce was being charged at by a giant bull. Well, this guy named William wasn’t having any of it, and tackled the beast to the ground, saving his king. He turned the bull around. Get it?
- The Turnbulls kept up their namesake, as they were always ready to fight. It’s said that a man from another clan went to the Turnbulls on behalf of his chief, to ask for their support for the chief’s claim to the throne of Scotland. The Turnbulls apparent answered something like, “we don’t give a flying haggis what you politicians do, we just wanna get out there and smash some skulls!” These brass balls stayed throughout the centuries, as one modern member of the clan, James Turnbull, held the German’s at bay for 24 hours with only a machine gun during WWI.
The Paterson Clan
- Clan Motto: Huc Tendimus Omnes – We all strive for this
- This armigerous lowland clan gets it’s name from the Gaelic “MacGille Phadraig”, which means “son of the devotee of Saint Patrick”.
- The Patersons are mega small, in the historical sense, but it’s one of the most common names in the lowlands in Scotland. Some even consider them to be a sept of the MacLarens.
- Clan Motto: Sapienter si sincere – Wisely if sincerely
- There are many stories of where this clan came from, but they all point to Clan Davidson being among the oldest in Scotland. But it’s generally believed that they are descendents of Gillichattan Mor, who was the first chief of the Chattan Confederation.
- They were a strong fighting clan until 1370 when Clan Cameron virtually wiped them out. But their numbers rose and by the time the Jacobite Rebellions came into play, the Davidsons fought for Scotland. In the end, a great number of them were banished to the North American colonies, where they settled mainly in the mountains of North Carolina.
Names asked for, but not included: Wilson (sepf of Clan Gunn), Achmoody (not a clan, but a last name), Mollahan (not a Scottish clan, but an Irish last name), Jeffrey (sept of Clan Donald), Harbinson (Scottish or Irish last name), Maynor (a Norman/English name with Germanic roots), Irwin (sept of Clan Irvine-see above), and McCracken (sept of Clan MacNaughton).
TKeep coming back every weekend to see what Scottish histories and Outlander articles and quizzes we have for you. Check out all the past Outlander Saturday posts here!
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Sarah and I both have books out now, so if you like our posts, you’ll probably love our books! First Semester is a thrilling college romance that you can get HERE. Queen of Emeralds is a historic romance set in the highlands that you can get HERE.