Outlandish Clan History Part 7

Hi! It’s been a while, but I’m finally back with the 7th installment of Outlandish Clan History! You can read the previous 6 posts HERE on our Outlander page and see if your family, or your fav clans, are delved into. So, I hope you enjoy this post!

Clan Kennedy


  • Clan Motto: Avise la Fin- consider the end


This old lowland clan has quote the history! So let’s dive right in…

  • The family supported Robert the Bruce’s claim to the Scottish throne in 1372 and were later granted lands and a chiefdom by Robert II.
  • The Kennedy’s rapidly rose up in the ranks, staying close to the royal family. Gillbert Kennedy was even the regent to James III of Scotland when the young king was an infant.
  • One Kennedy, a mercenary named Hugh, even fought for Joan of Arc!
  • Dunure Castle was the original seat of the chiefs. It was built in the 13th century


Clan Douglas


  • Clan Motto: Jamais Mrrière- Never Behind
  • Clan War Cry: A Douglas! A Douglas!

Here’s a super ancient clan to explore that has so much history, you’ll want to look up the rest for yourself…

  • They got their name from the Douglas Water region in South Lanarkshire and were related to the Murry Clan.
  • They were one of the Lowland’s most influential clan, and are often acknowledged as being the true power behind the Scottish kings.
  • During the Scottish Wars of Independence, the Lord of Douglas, Sir William, fought against the English. But the English took his castle and made him swear allegiance to the crown. He totally did…but he had his fingers crossed behind his back while he did it and immediately joined William Wallace against the British. He later died for his “crimes” in the Tower of London.
  • Sir William had a son, who is widely known as “Black Douglas”. Black Douglas was friends with Robert the Bruce and was a top commander during the Scottish Wars of Independence. He was among the first to use guerrilla warfare against the British and was known for his brutality on the field. He’s even the topic of an English lullaby…
    • Hush ye, hush ye, little pet ye. Hush ye, hush ye, do not fret ye. The Black Douglas shall not get ye
  • by 1440 the Douglas clan were thought to be getting too powerful. So, the “Black Dinner” was held by William Crichton, the Lord Chancellor of Scotland. William was pretty mad that his power being usurped a bit by the Douglas clan, so he invited teenage Earl of Douglas, along with his little brother, to dinner where he served them the head of a black boar. Then, against King James II’s wished, the boys were beheaded. This was the inspiration for the “Red Wedding” in Game of Thrones!


Clan Wemyss


  • Clan Motto: Je Pense- I Think


Let’s take a look into the history of this lowland Scottish clan…

  • This ancient clan got their name from the caves in Wemyss, on the south coast of Fife and are descended from Celtic nobility, through the MacDuffs of Fife.
  • They originally pledged their allegiance to the English, but switched over to Robert the Bruce. In retaliation, the English sacked Wemyss Castle, their ancestral seat, but didn’t hold it long. Fun fact, Wemyss Castle is where Mary Queen of Scots met her husband Lord Darnley in 1565. (see castle below)
  • During the Jacobite uprisings of 1745, James Wemyss married a woman by the last name of Charteris and took to the side of the Jacobites. He stayed close to Prince Charlie, even fleeing to France with him, and his lands were taken by the crown. His second son took his mother’s name, Charteris, and joined their teensy clan.


Clan Cathcart


  • Clan Motto: I hope to speed


Are you a member of this lowland clan? Let’s learn a few things…

  • They get their names from the River Cart, a tributary of the River Clyde. The first chief was Rainaldus de Kethcart, who was noted in history in the 1170s.
  • During the Scottish Wars of Independence, they first caved to the English, but Alan de Cathcart’s wife was distantly related to the Bruce family, so they followed Robert the Bruce’s brother Edward into battle.
  • The Cathcarts were loyal to the English crown, by the time of the 1715 Jacobite risings and even lead the Royal Scots Greys against the Jacobites, which were troops of royal dragoons.
  • Their loyalty to the British made them successful and they were then made ambassadors to Russia, given command of the British army in Scotland, and given lands and titles for their continued successes in fighting for England in other wars.

Clan Grierson


  • Clan Motto: Hoc Securior- Safer by This


This lowland clan, which is related to the Gregor clan, has a nice little history…

  • It’s accepted that their name came from “Gregor” and was shifted over the years into it’s present form, but that is still under debate, as records in the 800s weren’t exactly perfect! But it is a face that the name, at one point, was “Grerson”.
  • In 1408 they came into possession of the lands in Lag and lived, and married, closely with Clan Douglas.
  • They fought alongside Mary Queen of Scots and James VI, giving them knighthoods, titles, and power.
  • One man, Robert Grierson, got quite the reputation. He was so viscous in his persecution of the Covenanter (Scottish Presbyterians that were thought to be against the Scottish crown) that he’s become a local legend. Known as “Cruel Lag”, he is said to have denied executed men time to prey and made pacts with the devil.

Clan MacTavish


  • Clan Motto: Non Oblitus- Not Forgetful
  • Clan War Cry: Cruach Mor!- Refers to a meeting place in their ancestral lands


I know this name is familiar to many of you! But let’s take a moment to learn a few things…

  • This ancient highland clan is as traditional as they come in many ways. It’s said they come from Taus, the illegitimate son of Colin Mael Maith, who claimed lineage from King Arthur. They’re also cousins of the Campbells and the McIvers, as the “fathers” of both clans were two other sons of Colin Mael Maith, which only the Campbell son being legitimate. I know, a bit confusing!
  • They stayed out of the Jacobite uprisings, for the most part, with some members independently fighting with the MacIntosh clan with the Jacobites. But that didn’t save them from the Highland Clearances…
  • However, unlike many chiefs, the leaders of the MacTavish clan’s didn’t sell off their lands, force their tenants to move, or mistreat them after the fall of the Jacobites. But many of the clan took on the Thompson/Thomson name to avoid persecution as highlanders.
  • Now, let’s take a moment to appreciate Graham McTavish! While I’m not 100% sure what his alliance is to Clan MacTavish, the Glasgow born actor is proud of his roots and his last name is an alternate spelling of this clan’s. If you know if he claims membership, let me know!

Clan Ruthven


  • Clan Motto:Deid Schaw- Deeds Show


This is a tidy little lowland clan for you to look at…

  • Hailing from Norse stock, they got their name from the old “Ruadhainn” lands in Perthshire in the 12th century.
  • In the 1200s then faked out the English, which is starting to look like a theme here, and later supported William Wallace and was rewarded handsomely.
  • Remember the Charterises we talked about a bit before? Well, that clan and the Ruthvens didn’t get along. The Charterises were given some land by Robert the Bruce, but the Ruthvens thought that land was theirs. Soooo when the Charterises came to Perth, the Ruthvens barred the gates and all attempts to take the town were unsuccessful.
  • By the 1700s the Ruthvens were basically gone from the public sphere and kept to themselves, as their line was taken over by distant cousins and the like.

Clan Primrose


  • Clan Motto: Fide et Fiducia- By Faith and Trust


Here are some fun facts about this lowland clan…

  • They come from the land of Primrose in Fife and the first recorded ancestor was Henry Primrose in 1490.
  • Henry’s grandson, Gilbert, was the personal chaplain to King James VI of Scotland and Charles I of England. He also later became the Dean of Windsor.
  • Mainly English supporters, like many lowland clans, they largely stayed out of the wars between Scotland and England. But at least one Primrose man was executed for being a Jacobite supporter.
  • Their ancestral seat is fairly modern, but totally gorgeous! Take a look at Dalmeny house, where the Primrose earls still live. PS some parts are available for rent, if you’re planning a Scottish wedding!


Clan Johnstone


  • Clan Motto: Nunquam Non Paratus- Never Unprepared


This border reiver clan has a fun little history…

  • In their early days, somewhere in the 7-800s, they were the most powerful and ruthless border clan. They were tasked with keeping watch over the English and often raided the English villages that crept close to the Scottish border.
  • But in the 1100s, their chief, John Johnstone, pledged his allegiance to the English crown and was gifted lands and made Warden of the border areas between the two countries. However, the Johnstones continued to only raid the English, never the Scottish.
  • Still, They did fight with their neighboring clans, particularly those of Clan Moffat. in 1557 the Johnstones wanted to end the feud once and for all. So they killed their chief and trapped a bunch of the Moffat members into a church before burning it to the ground. It decimated the clan and the Johnstones took their lands and holdings.

Clan Lennox


  • Clan Motto: I’ll Defend


This ancient earldom has a few fun facts surrounding it. So let’s take a look at their long history…

  • This Lowland name is so old, they are said to have came from the ancient Celts. Still, it’s under dispute how exactly they came to be. Some say it was from a Saxon lord marrying a Scottish heiress, while others have said that they were granted lands by a king. They may have also gotten their name from the Scottish Gaelic, for “smooth stream”, “Leven-ach”.
  • By the time of the Scottish Wars of Independence, they were one of the richest and most powerful nobles in Scotland. This is partly due to their ability to “bullshit” the English crown into thinking they were in support of them while actually backing Robert the Bruce.
  • In the 15th and 16th century, their power stared to falter. This is partly due to the Lennox heiress marring an English lord, whose family had a hand in murdering the Scottish King Jame’s brother. King James got revenge of them and the Lennox title was passed around Scotland and England. But in the 19th century, the title was restored.

Clan MacArthur/Arthur


  • Clan Motto: Fide Et Opera- By Fidelity and Work
  • Clan War Cry: Eisd! O Eisd!- Listen! Oh, Listen!

Here’s another old clan with a fun history!

  • This clan is one of the oldest Highland clans in history, claiming heritage alongside Clan Campbell. And although they’re old, they didn’t obtain vast amounts of land until Robert the Bruce rewarded them for their bravery and support during the Scottish Wars of Independence.
  • Butttt their power was short lived, as in 1427, the popular MacArthur chief was beheaded by King James as a show of power. As a result, the clan lost much of it’s land.
  • In 1771 the clan chief died without an heir, and the clan was without a leader for more than 200 years until a Canadian man claimed the title in 2003. What a lucky guy!

Clan Spens


  • Clan Motto:Si Deus Quis Contra-If God is for us, who is against us


This Lowland clan, part of which is a sept of Clan MacDuff, has an old history as well!

  • The Spens came to be in in the late 1000’s when William the Conquer came to England, bringing with him a Normal knight named Robert d’Abbetot. Robert was made a steward in Scotland, the old French of that title being “Spens”.
  • Going forward, members of the clan supported the English and the Scottish in turn, often playing both sides for power. But by the 15th century, they were firmly in support of the Scottish Crown, taking roles of bodyguards to King James, making affluent marriages to other Scotish nobles, and taking over various church positions.
  • Later, they were sent to Sweden as ambassadors in the late 1500s, where they rose through the ranks to become Swedish nobility, as Count Spens.

Clan Hannay


  • Clan Motto:Per Ardua Ad Alta- Through difficulties to Heaven


Let’s clan about Clan Hannay, who one of my favorite plaid patterns…

  • The Hannay are an ancient family that came from old Galloway nobles, but because a true clan sometime in the 1200s.
  • During the Scottish Wars of Independence, the Hannays were skeptical of Robert the Bruce and opted to support John Balliol for the crown. Balliol was a distant cousin of the Hannays, as they both came from Galloway nobles.
  • They continued to amass power until they butted heads with Clan Murray. The Murrays crushed them in their many feuds and the Hannays lost all power.
  • Sorbie Tower was their ancestral seat for years and is open for exploration today, for free.


Clan Grant


  • Clan Motto: Craig Elachie – refers to a rallying point in time of war
  • Alternative Clan Motto: Stand Fast, Stand Sure

For our final clan of the day, lets learn about the Grants!

  • The ancestors came from Normandy with the early conquerors and was descended from Aplin, the father of the fist king of the Scots, Kenneth MacAlpin.
  • They became true Highland powerhouses when they supported both William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, being rewarded with vast swatches of land.
  • They were such powerful forces, they often steamrolled other clans for coveted lands and castle, most notably Castle Grant, which had first belonged to Clan Comyn.
  • But they also made powerful allies, such as Clan Gordon and Clan Gregor, keeping them in power though wit, as well as force.
  • For the most part, they supported the English Crown during the Jacobite Rebellions, with only small factions fighting for the Jacobites. This was a smart move in maintaining their power and place in Scotland, as they weren’t affected by the Highland Clearances and were even given a spot on the Black Watch.
  • Going back to Castle Grant, it’s said to be haunted by Lady Barbara Grant, who died of a broken heart after being imprisoned in order to keep her from marrying the wrong man.



That’s it! Maybe I’ll do a part 8, but that’s really dependent on what you guys think. Do you want a part 8? Are there other clans I haven’t talked about that you’re interested in? Let me know! But check the past 6 parts HERE before naming them, in case I’ve already discussed them.

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. Both of them come in paperback, ebook, and Kindle Unlimited.



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