Clans Who Attended The 2010 Highland Games

Clan MacNeil

macneil-signmacniel-tartanClan MacNeil, also known in Scotland as Clan Niall, is a highland Scottish clan, particularly associated with the Outer Hebridean island of Barra. The early history of Clan MacNeil is obscure, however despite this the clan claims to descend from the legendary Niall of the nine hostages. The clan itself takes its name from a Niall who lived in the 13th or early 14th century, and who belonged the same dynastic family of Cowal and Knapdale as the ancestors of the Lamonts and the McSweens. While the clan is centred in Barra in the Outer Hebrides, there is a branch of the clan in Argyll that some historians have speculated was more senior in line, or possibly even unrelated. However, according to Scots Law the current chief of Clan Macneil is the chief of all MacNeils.

The MacNeils of Barra claim descent from a prince of the O’Neill dynasty, Ánrothán Ua Néill. Anrothan emigrated to Scotland in the 11th century. Through him the MacNeils of Barra also naturally claim descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. The clan Neill were among the secondary vassal tribes of the lords of the Isles, and its heads appear to have been of Norse or Danish origin. Mr Smibert thinks this probable from the fact that the Macneills were lords of Castle Swen, plainly a Norse term. “The clan”, he says, “was in any case largely Gaelic, to a certainty. We speak of the fundamental line of the chiefs mainly, when we say that the Macneills appear to have at least shared the blood of the old Scandinavian inhabitants of the westerm islands. The names of those of the race first found in history are partly indicative of such a lineage. The isle of Barra and certain lands of Uist were chartered to a Macneill in 1427; and in 1472, a charter of the Macdonald family is witnessed by Hector Mactorquil Macneill, keeper of Castle Swen. The appellation ‘Mac-Torquil’, half Gaelic, half Norse, speaks strongly in favour of the supposition that the two races were at this very time in the act of blending with one people. After all, we proceed not beyond the conclusion, that, by heirs male or heirs female, the founders of the house possessed a sprinkling of the blood of the ancient Norwegian occupants of the western isles and coasts, interfused with that of the native Gael of Albyn, and also of the Celtic blood, beyonf doubt, is far the largest in the veins of the clan generally”.

The Macneills of Barra were expert seamen, and did not scruple to act as pirates upon occasion. An English ship having been seized off the island of Barra by Ruari the turbulent, Queen Elizabeth complained of this act of piracy.
The 18th and 19th century saw severe hardship to Clan Macneil clansfolk. During this era there was mass emigration from Barra to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. During the chiefship of Colonel Roderick (c.1755–1822) Barra suffered its first mass emigrations, ironically the chief described himself as a melieuratier (an “improver”). One mass exodus of Barra folk was led by Gilleonan, elder son of the chief. This consisted of 370 Catholic Barra folk (about 75 families in total) who emigrated in August to Nova Scotia. In 1838 after going broke, Colonel Roderick’s son and heir, General Roderick Macneil of Barra, sold Barra to Colonel Gordon of Cluny. When Roderick died in 1863 the chiefship passed to a cousin (descendant of Gilleonan) who had emigrated during the mass emigrations to Canada in 1802.

Robert Lister Macneil, was born in 1889. An American citizen and a trained architect, he succeeded the chiefship of Clan Macneil in 1915. In 1937 he was able to purchase Barra and the ruinous Kisimul Castle largely using the money from his second wife. Immediately he began work restoring the castle, aided in part by funds from a British Government grant. By his death in 1970 he had completed the restoration of the castle – ancient seat of the chiefs of the clan.

Clan Davidson

Clan Davidson SealClan Davidson TartanAccording to the Highland manuscript believed to be written by one MacLauchlan, bearing the date 1467, and containing an account of the genealogies of Highland clans down to about the year 1450, which was accepted as authoritative by Skene in his Celtic Scotland, and believed to embody the common tradition of its time, the origin of the Davidsons is attributed to a certain Gilliecattan Mhor, chief of Clan Chattan in the time of David I. This personage, it is stated, had two sons, Muirich Mhor and Dhai Dhu. From the former of these was descended Clan Mhuirich or Macpherson, and from the latter Clan Dhai or Davidson. Sir Aeneas Macpherson, the historian of the clan of that name, states that both the Macphersons and the Davidsons were descended from Muirich, parson of Kingussie in the twelfth century. Against this statement it has been urged that the Roman kirk had no parson at Kingussie at that time. But this fact need not militate against the existence of Muirich at that place. The Culdee church was still strong in the twelfth century, and, as its clergy were allowed to marry, there was nothing to hinder Muirich from being the father of two sons, the elder of whom might carry on his name, and originate Clan Macpherson, while the younger, David, became ancestor of the Davidsons. Still another account is given in the Kinrara MS. upon which Mr. A. M. Mackintosh, the historian of Clan Mackintosh, chiefly relies: This MS. names David Dubh as ancestor of the clan, but makes him of the fourteenth century, and declares him to be of the race of the Comyns. His mother, it says, was Slane, daughter of Angus, sixth chief of the Mackintoshes, and his residence was at Nuid in Badenoch. Upon the whole, it seems most reasonable to accept the earliest account, that contained in the MS. of 1467, which no doubt embodied the traditions considered most authentic in its time.

The chiefs of the Davidsons are said to have been settled, in early times at Invernahaven, a small estate in Badenoch, at the junction of the Truim with the Spey, and when they emerge into history in 1370 or 1386 the holders of the name appear to have been of considerable number, and in close alliance with the Mackintoshes from whose forebears they claim descent.

The historian of Clan Chattan above referred to offers another theory to account for the comparative disappearance of Clan Davidson from the historic page, by pointing out that two of the name were concerned in the murder of Lachlan, the fourteenth Mackintosh chief, in 1524. One of these two, Milmoir MacDhaibhidh, was the chief’s foster-brother, but believed that Mackintosh had helped to destroy his prospects of marrying a rich widow, and accordingly, on 25th March, along with John Malcolmson and other accomplices, fell upon the chief and slew him while hunting at Ravoch on the Findhorn. For this deed the three assassins were seized and kept in chains in the dungeon on till 1531, when, after trial, Malcolmson was beheaded and quartered, and the two Davidsons were tortured, hanged, and had their heads fixed on poles at the spot where they committed the crime. Mr. Mackintosh also points out that another Davidson, Donald MacWilliam vic Dai dui, conspired with the son of the above John Malcolmson against William, the fifteenth Mackintosh chief in 1550 when the head of that chief was brought to the block by the Earl of Huntly at Strathbogie. The Davidsons who did these things, however, were merely servants and humble holders of the name, and their acts can hardly have brought the whole clan into serious disrepute

Another important conflict a Davidson was in was the Battle of Harlaw in 1411. This battle, regarded by many today as the conflict between Highlanders and Lowlanders which killed the expansion of Gaelic influence, was one of the most brutal in Scottish history, becoming known as “Red Harlaw”.

On 25th March, 1909, with a view to the formation of a Clan Davidson Society, the Laird of Tulloch called a meeting of holders of the name at the Hotel Metropole in London. Some sixty members of the clan were present, when it was proposed, seconded, and carried that Davidson of Tulloch be recognized and acknowledged as chief of the clan. The act was questioned in a letter to the Northern Chronicle, in which the writer pointed out that, while for a long period of years writers on Highland history had all pointed to Tulloch as the chief, this must be taken as an error seeing that The Mackintosh was the only chief of Clan Chattan. In proof of this statement it was pointed out that in 1703 twenty persons named Dean alias Davidson had at Inverness signed a band of manrent declaring that they and their ancestors had been followers, dependents, and kinsmen to the lairds of Mackintosh, and were still in duty bound to own and maintain the claim, and to follow, assist, and defend the honorable person of Lachlan Mackintosh of that ilk as their true and lawful chieftain. A long correspondence followed pro and con, but it was pointed out by later writers that the acknowledgment of Mackintosh by twenty Davidsons as supreme head of the Clan Chattan confederacy did not prevent the Davidson sept from possessing and following a chief of their own. As a matter of fact, history shows them to have had a chief at the battle of Invernahaven, and by all the laws of Highland genealogy the clansmen were fully entitled to meet and confirm the claim of their present leader and head.

It should be added that Davidson of Tulloch is hereditary keeper of the royal castle of Dingwall.

Among notable holders of the name of Davidson mention must be made of the redoubtable provost of Aberdeen, Sir Robert Davidson, who led the burghers of the city at the battle of Harlaw in 1411, and gallantly fell at their head. It is said to be his Armour which is still treasured in the vestibule of the City Chambers at Aberdeen, and when the great old church of St. Nicholas in that city was being repaired a generation ago his skeleton was recognized by a red cloth cap with which he had been buried.
Another notable clansman was John Davidson, Regent of St. Leonard’s College at St Andrews in the days of Queen Mary, and afterwards the minister of Liberton near Edinburgh, who quarreled with the Regent Morton, opposed the desire of James VI. to restore prelacy, excommunicated Montgomerie, Bishop of Glasgow, at the desire of the General Assembly in 1582, and was author of Memorials of His Time

Clan MacPherson

Clan MacPherson SealClan MacPherson TartanThe name Macpherson — or MacPherson or McPherson, according to different spellings — comes from the Gaelic Mac a’ Phearsain and means ‘Son of the Parson’. The Parson in question was Muriach, a 12th century parson, or lay preacher, of Kingussie in Badenoch. Historically, the term ‘parson’ (in the Gaelic pearsain or pears-eaglais literally ‘person of the church’) had a different meaning. Before the Reformation in Highland Scotland, the religious leader of a parish was the priest and the parson was the steward of church property, responsible for the collection of tithes. The history of Clan Macpherson has been called “The Posterity of the Three Brethren” as the three grandsons of Muriach are the antecedents of the three main clan families, Cluny, Pitmain and Invereshie.

For many centuries, the Macphersons have been a leading clan in the Clan Chattan Confederation. Although the Macphersons have a strong claim to the Chattan lineage, they have been unsuccessful in wresting control of the Clan Chattan from the MacKintosh. Today, the clans cooperate closely in the Clan Chattan Association, where John MacKintosh, chief of Clan MacKintosh, is president and Sir William Macpherson, chief of Clan Macpherson, is vice president of the association along with allied clan chiefs.

Clan Elliot Society USA

Clan Elliot SealClan Elliot Society TartanThe Elliots were a famous, indeed notorious, Border clan, like the Armstrongs. Their territory was around Upper Liddesdale, where they conducted their more or less profitable banditry for many centuries. The principal family in the early days was the Elliots of Redheugh, who often held the captaincy of Hermitage Castle — still to be seen, squat and impregnable, on the moors south of Hawick. One of the Elliots of Redheugh, forefather of the Elliots of Arkleton, fell at Flodden (the beautiful lament for that disaster, The Flowers of the Forest, was written by Jane Elliot, sister of Sir Gilbert Elliot, first Baronet of Minto in the 18th century).

The Elliots of Stobs go back to Gawain Elliot of Stobs in the late 16th century, who was descended from the Elliots of Redheugh. Since the 17th century, when Border plundering was finally suppressed, they have been the principal among the many cadet houses. Gawain was succeeded as Laird of Stobs by Gilbert, known as “Gibbie wi’ the gowden gartens”, and from one of his sons the baronets and earls of Minto are descended.

Of this line, several of whom were distinguished as judges and empire builders, the most famous were George Elliot, vegetarian and teetollar, who as governor of Gibraltar in 1779 conducted the heroic and successful defence of the Rock when it was besieged by Franco-Spanish forces, and Gilbert Elliot, first Earl of Minto, a notable Governor-General of India in the early 19th century.

His great grandson, Gilbert, fourth Earl of Minto (1845-1914), is remembered in the sporting world for having broken his neck riding in the Grand National. The mishap had no permanent effects and he was Governor-General of Canada before succeeding Lord Curzon as Viceroy of India in 1905. He was the chief architect of the Morley-Minto Reforms, regarded as dangerously radical in some circles at the time though, as it turned out, insufficient to stem the tide of Indian unrest.

The seat of the Earl of Minto is Minto House, in Hawick, and of the Eliot of Stobs, chief of the clan at Redheugh.

Clan MacKenzie

Clan MacKenzie SealClan MacKenzie TartanThe name Mackenzie, or MacCoinneach in Gaelic, means literally, “Son of Kenneth. The original Kenneth, who lived in the 13th Century, was descended from a younger son of Gilleoin of the Aird, from whom can also be traced the once powerful Earls of Ross.

The MacKenzies were, without doubt, of Celtic stock and were not among the clans that originated from Norman ancestors. We know little about the generations immediately following Gilleoin, but in 1267 Kenneth was living at Eilean Donan, a stronghold at the mouth of Loch Duich. He must have been an important vassal, for the Earl of Ross appears to have married Kenneth’s aunt and thus strengthened the relationship which already existed between the two families.

At the start of the fifteenth century the Earldom of Ross came, through marriage, into the hands of the powerful family of MacDonald, who owned vast property on the west of Scotland and called themselves, at first without the King’s authority, Lords of the Isles. In this way the Mackenzies became vassals, not of their kinsmen the Earls of Ross but of the MacDonalds.

Clan MacKenzie rose rapidly in importance during the 15th Century through the acquisition of lands extending across Scotland from the west to east coasts, in the counties of Ross and Cromarty, and parts of Sutherlandshire.

In 1991, under the leadership of Cabarfeidh, the Clan Mackenzie announced plans to restore the original portion of Castle Leod, built at the end of the 15th Century. The restored Castle will include a Clan genealogical center and will be open to the public. The Earl and his family will continue to live in an extension to the Castle built in the Victorian and Edwardian periods.

The clan country of the Mackenzies includes almost every kind of scenery and conditions to be found in Scotland. The original home of the clan is Kintail, which in Gaelic means “head of the sea.” High hills fall steeply down to Loch Duich, giving little space for cultivation. At the mouth of Loch Duich stands Eilean Donan castle, no longer a stronghold of the Mackenzies, but the first home of their chief. Built on a rocky island at the narrow entrance of the loch, where the arrival of enemy boats could be seen and contested, it looks over the water towards Skye and the west.

Clan Donald

Clan Donald TartanClan Donald, greatest and largest of the Highland Clans, begins it’s recorded history with Somerled, a descendant of Conn of the Hundred Battles and Clan Colla. Somerled’s defeat of the Norse King of Man in 1156 gained independence for southwestern Scotland that survived for over four centuries.

The clan takes it’s name from Donald, the 3rd Lord of the Isles and grandson of Somerled who lived until 1269. Donald’s son was the original “Mac” (meaning “son of”). It was Donald’s great-grandson, Angus Og, the 6th Lord of the Isles who sheltered Robert the Bruce at the lowest ebb of his career. Later, leading a small band of Islemen, Angus Og was instrumental in Bruce’s defeat of the English at Bannockburn. This battle won independence for Scotland. In recognition of Clan Donald’s part in the victory Robert the Bruce proclaimed that Clan Donald would forever occupy the honored position on the right wing of the Scottish Army.

Angus Og’s grandson, Donald, the 8th Lord of the Isles, married the heiress of the Earldom of Ross and in 1411 fought the Battle of Harlaw to keep his wife’s inheritance from being usurped by the Regent Duke of Albany. His army of 10,000 men included the forces of almost every clan of the Highlands and Isles. All these clans were willing vassals of the Lord of the Isles. They regarded the MacDonald Chiefs as the heads of the ancient “Race of Conn,” and lineal heirs of the ancient Kings of the Dalriadic Scots, going back to the 6th century and beyond.

Donald of Harlaw’s son and grandson were both Earls of Ross and Lords of the Isles, controlling not only the Hebrides from Islay and Kintyre to the Butt of Lewis, but most of Argyll and the modern County of Inverness, along with the County of Antrim in northern Ireland. The Earldom was lost in 1471, but the Lordship of the Isles was not absorbed by Scotland until the middle of the 16th century. A MacDonnell (a variation of the surname MacDonald) is still Earl of Antrim.

The power of the clan survived and formed the backbone of the army of the Marquis of Montrose, fighting for the survival of the Stewarts in the 17th century, and, though divided, it was an important factor in the Jacobite Rebellions of the 1700’s.

Scottish – American Military Society

Scottish-American Military Society SealThe Scottish-American Military Society (SAMS) was founded and chartered in North Carolina, April 12, 1981, as a non-profit organization with the following purpose:

  • To preserve and promote Scottish and American Armed Forces customs, traditions, and heritage, by:
  • Providing a forum for exchange of military history and genealogical information
  • Conducting public education programs
  • Presenting military student honor awards
  • Supporting Scottish activities at Highland Games
  • Making contributions to qualified scholarship funds or institutions
  • Making appropriate charitable contributions
  • Providing a fraternal atmosphere for members

The Society was founded as a veterans organization. The membership is composed primarily of veterans of Scottish ancestry who have served — or are serving — in the Armed Forces of the United States and the Commonwealth. If you support the purposes shown above, we would welcome your membership if you qualify. Membership is open to honorably discharged veterans or active duty or reserve military persons who have served or are serving with any branch of the United States or Commonwealth Armed Forces.

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