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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
VI. The Cruithne


The House of Strathearn, which fell in the mid-fourteenth century, was made up of the families immediately connected with the earls of Strathearn. These earls were, together with the earls of Fife, foremost among the seven original Celtic earls who were peers of the Kings of Scots under the old high-kingship. They seem clearly to have represented the "tribe of the land" of Fortrenn, the Pictish kingdom on which the Pictish high-kingship had been based before the merging of that kingdom with Dalriada. The earls bore no surname other than the title of Earl of Strathearn, but their various branches throughout the High Middle Ages usually took surnames from their estates during the thirteenth century or later, as per Scottish custom. The only two exceptions to this rule were the MacLarens of the Clan Laurin, and the MacLeishes. The families of the House of Strathearn include the MacLarens, de Baiquhidders, Tyries, Logies, Glencairnies, Buries, Strathearns and MacLeishes.

The MacLarens (Mac Labhruinn) take their patronymic from Laurence, who was the hereditary Celtic abbot (see Chapter II) of Achtow in Balquhidder in the thirteenth century. This line of abbots, being descended from the earl who founded Achtow, appears to have assumed the leadership of the earl’s clan-family following the death of the last earl, who died about 1350. The clan was at that time reduced from being independent owners of their lands to being perpetual tenants under the new overlords, the Murrays of Tullibardine, Lords of Balquhidder and Stewards of Strathearn. These Murrays, with their kinsmen the Morays of Abercairney in Strathearn, both remembered their descent from the Celtic earls through different heiresses in the female line (by whom they acquired their lands). The Clan Laurin, in the plural sense, were probably identical with the "Lavernani" who fought under Malise, Earl of Strathearn at the Battle of the Standard in 1138. They held land in Balquhidder and Strathearn, and spread later, under the Murray earls of Atholl, into that district as well. In the fifteenth and especially the sixteenth century they were constantly at feud with the MacGregors. The MacLarens followed and supported the Stewarts of Appin in their struggles; this as a result of kinship, fosterage and alliance between their respective clans (see under Stewart of Appin in Chapter X). They also followed their Murray kinsmen, the Tullibardine branch of which family became Dukes of Atholl (and we find some MacLaren families holding land in Atholl).

The de Balquhidders, who appear in early records of ca. 1285—1305, were MacLarens (Duncan de Balquhidder appears in 1284, and Conan de Balquhidder in 1296), probably from before the name MacLaren came into general use. The Tyries and Logies are important younger (cadet) branches of the earls of Strathearn from the latter thirteenth century who founded houses in the lowland part of the earldom. The Tyries were closely associated with the Clan Laurin at the end of the thirteenth century, and originally bore as arms a different version of the Strathearn arms, but also variously bore a different version of the original Mentieth arms (see under Drummond, following).


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