Clans and Families
of Ireland and Scotland VII. The Érainn
The Camerons (Camshron) derive their
name from a place in Fife, where the original knightly family settled as cadets of the
earls of Fife. The Cameron arms are a different version of one of the two distinct coats
of arms used by the MacDuff chiefs, earls of Fife (the Fife practice of bearing two arms
probably arose to forstall confusion in the official and military use of the main Fife
arms, which are very similar to the Royal Arms, being the "undifferenced"
version of those arms, a reflection of ultimate seniority of the House of Fife in
Scotland—see under MacDuff). A scion of this house, Sir Robert Cambron, was sheriff
of Atholl in 1296 under the earls of Atholl, who were at that time themselves a branch of
the earls of Fife. Thus the male-line ancestor of the Clan Cameron was brought to the
border of Lochaber, which would become the home of the clan. By the end of the fourteenth
century, the southern estates of the Camerons had passed out of the family through
heiresses, but soon afterwards the Camerons themselves inherited the chiefship of a clan
in western Lochaber, of the same stock as the Clan Chattan, whose chief families were the
MacGillonies (Mac Giolla Onfhaidh) of Strone, MacMartins (Mac Mairtin) of Letterfinlay
(who have almost entirely adopted the name of Cameron), and the MacSorleys (Mac Somhairle)
of Glen Nevis. By about 1411 their first traceable chief, "Black Donald"
Cameron, was already chief of the MacGillonie branch of the clan when he married the
heiress of MacMartin of Letterfinlay, who brought to him the captaincy of the Clan
Cameron. He was ancestor of the Camerons, alias MacGillonies, of Strone and Lochiel, the
latter being the chief family, and deriving the designation of Lochiel from the name of
the barony erected from the lands of the Captain of Clan Cameron in 1528. The name
Cameron, from the original Fife family, does survive in the south, though rare, iand was
common in Edinburgh in the seventeenth century.
The Cineal nGabrain originally dwelt south of the Cineal Loairn in the
island districts of Jura, Bute, and Arran, and the mainland districts of Cowal and
Kintyre. They derive their descent from Gabhran, King of Dal Riada in the sixth century.
They were the chief clan of the Dal Riada, and merged with the Pictish Royal House in the
ninth century. Their chief descendants include the Fergusons, MacKerseys, MacFies,
MacGregors, MacKinnons and MacQuarries.
The Fergusons (Mac Fhearghuis) of Strachur on Loch Fyne, and their
kinsmen the MacKerseys (Mac Fhearghuis) of Kintyre are not connected with the several
clans of the name in other parts of the Highlands, with the possible exception of the
Fergusons of Balquhidder. The Strachur Fergusons stronghold was the "Black
Castle" on Beinn Bheula. The Lowland family of the name in Ayrshire, the Fergusons of
Kilkerrin, were originally of the Kintyre branch, as suggested by their arms, and by the
similarity of the name of their original lands, Kilkerrin (dedicated to St. Ciaran) to the
name of the place called Kilkerrin (now Campbelltown) in Kintyre (the Fergusons of
Kilkerrin may originally have been hereditary keepers of the cross of St. Ciaran).
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